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Breaking Up? - Scouting?

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There have been some reports of birds breaking up throughout the Southeastern parts of Minnesota. Large winter flocks of as many as 100 birds are now turning into smaller groups of as few as a handful of strutters with their hens.

Does it matter? Not that much, really, but it is a bunch of fun to track their movements/changes. Flock break-up usually happens around the middle-end of March here in MN from my experience, depending on weather. It simply means that birds will be venturing further away from their winter grounds until only one group, or sometimes no group, roosts there for much of the remainder of spring.

What it does signal is the start to another phase of scouting. While the winter birds were somewhat stationary in their movements, you'll hopefully start seeing birds "everywhere." This term is relative, as it still means they'll be frequenting only selected roost, strut, and feeding sites; but they'll be much more visibile in more locations than they were previously. I'll try to get some windshield time in, as well as some time out listening for early morning gobbling on-foot.

Wait until the forecast calls for a dead-calm morning with some good sun and mild temperatures, and get out there early! Try to position yourself in the center of a valley, so you can hear gobbling from all directions. Locate groups of roosting birds, and move on! While it's wonderful sitting there listening to the gobbles ring through the hollows, your goal here is to locate as many groups of gobbling birds that you can. Ultimately, the goal is to have some likely roost locations should your birds clam-up come hunting season.

Continue to confirm locations if you can, but focus your greatest scouting efforts on the days just previous to your spring season. Fresh information is better than month-old info, and the brunt of your scouting workload is yet to come.

Good luck, and get out there!


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I know that scouting is very important but if you cant find the time to get that much where do you start? I'm hunting the second season and really dont want to scout the week or days before because I really dont want to screw things up for the other hunters in the area. I'm hunting puplic land and their is a lot of turkeys around the area been seeing quite a few and I'm sure that the guys in the first season have seen them as well. I know that it is puplic land and I just dont think its ethical for me to scout while seasons going on or is it?

I've been working at the zoo and have been watching a wild resident flock of birds all winter and at first there was 13 birds together in the last couple of days the hens have been splitting off and the toms are strutting around the hens that are sticking around theirs a couple of big toms and it getts the blood pumping seeing them do the turkey strutt.

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IMHO, it's perfectly ethical, so long as you don't disturb the hunt of another. Try and make it mid-week, and gauge hunting pressure by vehicles parked at accesses. Head out only into areas where no-one is at. You can still get out there early, back off the birds a bit, stay concealed and just listen to where you hear gobbling coming from.

As for "remote scouting," a very good way is via aerial photos and topo maps. After you get some practice with it, esp. when coupled with local knowledge such as roosting locations, you can usually gauge a path that the turkeys might take. At least one path they might take smile.gif

I like the idea of the zoo birds, and getting some practice in with them. I try to get out to a flock that's on unhuntable public land and do some calling for a "mock-hunt". It sharpens my skills, and more importantly, hones my hearing and calling. I know not all have the opportunity to do this, but usually it just entails getting up a bit early then heading off to work.

Give it a try, and just steer clear of other hunters. If you can't, stay in the parking lot and listen for gobbling.


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