Now that we have discussed the three elements of turkey survival, how do we use that understanding as a tool for scouting? Basically, this gives us a place to start. If you look at the Colorado maps and focus on those major river corridors I mentioned above, you will find most have a highway or county road that runs along the river or stream. In the early spring, time to take a drive or ten and look for birds in the fields along those highways. If you find birds in limited license units, but did not draw, make the spot on the map for future reference. If you see birds in an unlimited unit, use a plat book or other source to identify the landowner; or just use the old proven method of knocking on doors and asking permission to hunt in the coming season.
If your drive does not produce birds, take time to park the car/truck and start walking along those river bottoms to look for tracks, strut marks and scat. Take a good look at any cottonwoods with large limbs that may hang over the bank and make sure the water line is away from the bank leaving a 20 or 30 yard sandy beach between the bank and the river. Look for piles of scat in these areas as they may reveal a well used roost site. While walking, look for feathers, scratching in the leaves and of course, turkeys running in the opposite direction. I use a sketch map and take notes of all the “turkey information” I find so I can potentially develop a good picture of what is happening on the ground. Carry a good 1:100,000 or larger scale map with you and see if plotting your turkey information does not help you develop a good picture of travel corridors, feeding areas and display areas.
Scouting takes time and hard work to find those special areas where food, shelter and water all come together to make the prefect habitat where the birds want to be. The good news is Rios do not cover nearly as much ground each day as mountain Merriam’s. Once you can find a good location that holds birds, you will tend to see them within a mile or so of that location unless they are pressured out by humans during hunting season.
Good luck! The season has started, but there is still a lot of time to play with Old Tom!