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Picking a Place for an Opening Morning Public Land Hunt


I ride the road listening for turkeys and looking for other people listening for turkeys. If I go by a spot two or three consecutive mornings where I’ve heard a turkey gobble and don’t see or hear anyone else’s vehicle parked there, then I know this is a good place to start my early-morning, public-land turkey hunt. I want to know where the turkey-hunting pressure will come from on opening morning. I look so closely at the cars and trucks, license tags and if possible the hunters who drive those vehicles that I feel like I know the person who’s driving that truck or car. 

There was a place on some public-hunting lands where every time I drove down a certain road, I’d always see two to four cars parked off the shoulder of the road 1-2 weeks before turkey season. I knew there were lots of turkeys there, but I immediately took it off the list of my places to hunt. I look carefully at any truck or car I see parked on the side of a road in public-hunting areas. If that vehicle has a Mossy Oak or a National Wild Turkey Federation decal or a picture of a turkey track on it, I realize the person who owns that vehicle is a real turkey hunter. He’s probably got the turkey he’s heard from that spot nailed down. I’ll probably take that area off my list of locations I plan to hunt the first week of turkey season.  If I see a blue Sonata that’s just been washed and waxed parked, I won’t worry about that fellow because he’s probably not an avid turkey hunter. He’ll likely go less a than 100 yards into the woods, sit down and start calling with a boxed turkey call he’s purchased 2 days before the season. So, I’m not too concerned about that hunter.  

I’ve been studying public-land turkeys and hunters for so long that I usually can tell you the day before the season where the hunting pressure on the turkeys will come from, and where a hunter is likely to bag a gobbler on opening morning.

Day 1: Scouting for Public Land Gobblers

Tomorrow: Finding Somewhere to Hunt on 2017’s Opening Day

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