Pre-scouting: Plan Early for Grand Slam success

You can never be too prepared for your spring travels. When you look in the mirror at midnight before you hunt a new state and ask, “What should I do? I have no idea where to hunt in four hours,” that’s bad, really bad.

Use several sources to plan your hunt long before you find yourself standing in unfamiliar woods. Go back several months or even years to pull together every bit of intelligence you’ve (hopefully) saved. I have a note on my iPhone labeled “states.” You can create a similar system. Every tip you receive should quickly be filed under the appropriate state. You will need it someday, and you will forget the information if you don’t write it down.

When I plan in fall for where I’ll hunt the next spring, I start by calling anyone who’s name I have gathered. Then I call that state’s wildlife agency to find out about every regulation for turkey hunting, and also ask to speak with the state’s turkey specialist. I’ll get in touch with the game warden from the region I’ve learned has the highest concentration of turkeys, and the local/regional NWTF staff are happy to help, too.

Local sporting goods stores, gun shops and — my favorite — archery shops are full of knowledgeable locals with a vast amount of intel. Be friendly, call them by name, and offer to swap a hunt, service or money, if necessary, as a free turkey is a rarity.

Last, when I hunt public property, I look for the largest tract of land, hunt during the week and hunt as far from the road as I can. You’ll soon forget an easy “yard bird,” but you’ll forever remember a bird into which you put everything.

Travel tip
I always have a bag of sunflower seeds handy to keep me awake when I drive long hours. I drink an energy drink if I get really tired, but I’m not afraid to pull off on the side of the road for a nap if I need one. No turkey is worth pushing that hard.

— Jeff Budz

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