With the burgeoning explosion of wild turkey populations, most hunters think that you can just jump in your car and go out and quick-like get a 25-pound wild turkey. You MAY get "lucky," but in order to be consistently successful, you must do your "scouting."
Every year is different for spring turkey hunting. You never know where the turkeys are going to be. There may snow on the ground; there may be a real early spring; it may be warm or cold -- one never knows. So you need to do some pre-season scouting to see where the birds are going to be localized.
Before you start scouting, however, you've got to get permission from a local farmer to hunt his/her land! And that isn't difficult. Farmers HATE wild turkeys. Deer will cause problems for farmers, but NOTHING like turkeys do. Turkeys do far more damage to crops than the deer herd. Turkeys eat the seeds from a farmer's planting, so nothing grows. Turkeys indeed will often literally follow a farmer as he plants his seeds in the spring, and they eat the seeds as they're being planted. Now, there's nothing wrong with using public hunting land, but it's a lot easier to hunt private farmland. The turkeys know where the food is!
Once you've gotten permission -- a courteous phone call to someone, a pleasant knock on the door at a reasonable day and hour -- a small gift -- a "referral" from a friend. Be nice. It works. Farmers are good people and will generally welcome you with open arms if you're decent; if you set up in your chosen area the night before your hunt; and "put the birds to bed."
Set up near where the birds are seen, and then wait for them to roost. Don't get too close. Check out the birds with binoculars, they could be clean across a field, maybe two-three hundred yards away. Turkeys are skittish, have superb eyesight, and will catch any movement instantly, and then they'll be spooked.
Once you've found their roosting area, withdraw for the night; then, in the morning, set up between where the birds are roosting and where they're feeding. The key to properly setting up in the morning is not to get too close, and know your location. Be quiet, immobile and well-concealed. If you've done your homework right, the birds will come to YOU, and you'll be home in time to enjoy a delicious turkey dinner with your family.
(Thanks to Phil Schweik of Hooksetters Guide Services who contributed to this article).