It’s late February early March, and by now your tree stands and compound bows are probably collecting dust in the gear closet. Snow is accumulating in the northern and western states, and bucks are just now beginning to drop sheds. For us, this time of year is for taking inventory on bucks that made it through the season, and hitting the pavement to knock on doors and expand our territory for next season. There are a several reasons why this is one of our favorite times of year to scout and knock. For one, the trees are naked making it much easier to see long distances and cover ground quickly. Scouting from the truck can be very effective this time of year because you can often see through the woods from the road, without having to get permission to tromp around and disturb wildlife. In our neck of the burbs, deer become concentrated to the thickest patches of woods left, making it easier to conduct trail camera surveys and sometimes getting a good idea where a buck spends his summer. Deer are not just more visible to hunters this time of year, they’re also more visible to homeowners, especially when the deer pile into subdivisions at night to feast on landscaping. This presents a great opportunity to gain permission from those landowners that might typically be on the fence about hunting, right after a herd of deer mow down the flowers they spent hundreds of dollars planting. By the time spring green-up rolls around and deer are less visible, landowners who were once frustrated with the deer may think they’re cute again, and your window of opportunity may close. If you’re serious about getting a head start on your early season scouting, now is the time. As winter starts to give way to early spring, our eyes become peeled checking fields for turkeys as we begin to set plans for the coming turkey season.
As temperatures warm, turkeys begin to show themselves sunning in fields and feasting on grubs and other bugs that have awakened with spring. This gives us a jump start on where we want to spend our time turkey hunting the rest of spring. The urban turkeys here in Atlanta are interesting. They haven’t flourished here like they have in some other cities, like Nashville, TN, and we typically find them concentrated in very small pockets. Unlike the urban deer, these small pockets of birds seem to act like resident birds and don’t cover a ton of ground. They may cover an area of a few hundred acres whereas a rural bird may cover several thousand acres. It’s likely that they don’t travel much because they have no reason to. There aren’t many other birds out there, and even if there were, the sound of a gobble or cut of a hen doesn’t travel far with all the ambient noise of the city. However, if you find one of these small pockets and are able to gain hunting permission, likely archery only, you can have tremendous success. These birds get old due to lack of hunting pressure, and there are some whoppers hiding out there. As you push out from the densely populated suburbs and into the fringes of urban and rural, you can find the best of both worlds. Turkeys that act and respond to calling like normal turkeys, but still having the potential to find areas with minimal hunting pressure. These are the areas we will be focusing on this spring. Not only for turkeys, but also to expand our deer hunting opportunities in the fall. Always keep in mind that any contact with a landowner is an opportunity to build a relationship. In most states it’s much easier to gain permission to hunt turkeys than deer, so use that as your foot in the door. Tread lightly and be respectful of the landowners property, and you’re off to a good start in a hopefully long term relationship with the landowner. One thing we always like to do is take notes about the landowner on Spartan Forge in the property notes section. After we’ve outlined the property green for “good to go” on hunting permission, we typically jot down a few notes such as; name the owner goes by, cell phone number, spouses name, occupation, kids or pets names, etc. This gives us a refresher of any conversations we may have had previously when re-visiting with that landowner.
While we do spend some time chasing urban turkeys, we prefer to stretch our legs and soak in the sounds of spring in the big woods. We can get so hyper-focused and locked in on a specific deer during fall, it’s nice to get out in the woods without a specific agenda other than finding some birds and enjoying God’s creation. We enjoy hunting new states and new environments during spring, whether it’s the swamps of south Florida or the hills of Wyoming. Thats a great thing about turkeys, they are in almost every state in the lower 48 and they are much more accessible and affordable to hunt than other big game species. Don’t overlook the possibility of simply traveling out of state and knocking on doors to hunt turkeys, urban or rural. We’ve done both with a ton of success and have saved a significant amount of money by not hiring an outfitter. Get out this spring and spend time in the woods, whether it’s in your backyard or in a state you haven’t been to. Keep in mind that any time in the woods is an opportunity to scout and gain intel for the coming fall.