Brain Versus Bird
against using a turkey call while scouting. "Don't go out there and play with them," he advises. "You don't want to scare the birds ahead of opening day, and you don't want them continually looking for a turkey that's not there. When the season opens, a bird may answer your call, but if he has heard that call before and been spooked, or searched and found nothing there, he's not going to be receptive to coming to you."
Griffen likes to be present the evening before the hunt and be within 100 or so yards of a roost when turkeys fly into it. "Around dusk," he says, "you will hear the birds fly up into the trees. Toms may even gobble when they fly up. You can count the number of turkeys by listening to their wing beats.
"Listen for a long series of wing beats when they fly up. If they are just moving from limb to limb it may be only a couple of flaps. If you hear only one bird fly up and it's a tom, he may be lonely and come running to your call in the morning. If you hear a lot of birds fly up, you know your work is cut out for you tomorrow."
In the morning, Griffen tries to tiptoe into a roost area in the dark and get between a tom and his hens, then do some effective and enticing calling. He says once the real hens gather around the gobbler, it will probably be later in the morning before the tom will respond to calling by a hunter.
Those two weekends of scouting pay off when the birds leave the roost-and leave you behind. "It's important to find feeding and dusting areas so if the birds are not cooperative at first daylight, you have an idea of where they are going. You will find feeding areas at the edge of cornfields or grassy areas. Look for tracks in the mud or feathers."
You also want to know where strutting areas-places where gobblers display for hens-are located. Griffen says a strutting area might be a grassy site right in the middle of a piece of timber or at the edge of a field. "You can find strutting areas by walking the edges of fields and looking ahead with binoculars. You'll see a big, old bird out there in full strut sometimes, especially in a wheat stubble