Every hunter knows that right now almost every turkey in the county is grouped up with other turkeys in their winter survival flocks. That is why right now is a great time to see what birds will be available for the spring hunts. Although birds are not located in the locations they will be at in a month or two, they should still be within a couple square miles of your hunting ground. This is why now is the best time to take your turkey inventory.
First off, they are easy to see and locate during this time of the year. With the colored leaves of fall long gone, the woods are open and these large herds of birds can be seen at great distances. If you live in prime turkey country, you should be seeing gangs of at least 100 birds hanging around together, and a gang this big might not even contain the toms of the area. In most cases, you will be looking for groups of 30 or more birds. During this time of the year, they group together to form a safety net against predators.
Having hundreds of eyes watching out for danger is a nice luxury to have during the toughest time of the year. Wintering turkeys don’t have the burden of mating and raising young so all hours of the day can be used for feeding and resting. I have spent tons of hours watching large gangs just slowly meander around all day lazily looking for food and taking short standing naps. As long as there are not sub-zero temperatures, most turkeys are actually on vacation during the winter, and they have the best possible security, each other.
Technically, males and females do hang close together in the winter, but mature toms will often keep a short distance between themselves and the main groups of young birds and females. Regardless, if you watch long enough, the toms will show up eventually.
Another plus for scouting at this time of the year can transfer to deer hunters too. Most leases expire after hunting season so if you happen to find some good ground that you might want to hunt, now is the best time to approach a landowner for permission or to inquire about a possible lease.
One thing I have learned in many years of turkey scouting, there will always be huntable birds located on the exact property where they chose to winter. That is just about the only guarantee I have found when it comes to pre-scouting.