Trail Camera Turkey Scouting | Camera Setups to Help You Kill a Gobbler

Trail Camera Turkey Scouting to Pattern Spring Birds

Trail cameras are now a staple when it comes to scouting for whitetails. Yet, how many of you are using them for planning your spring gobbler season? Until recently, most hunters packed up their game cameras after deer season and left them in storage until they were ready to deploy them back out for preseason deer scouting. Trail camera turkey scouting, however, is one of the best ways to pattern mature gobblers and increase your odds of killing one early in the season.

How to Scout for Turkeys in Spring

There are a number of ways to blow a turkey hunt. Some of which you can control and others you cannot. One that you can control is hunting where there are birds. This is why scouting for turkey sign is so important.

Turkey scouting is not complex in the sense that you need to discover active roosting and feeding areas. To do this, you need to focus on finding ground scrapes or scratch indicating where birds are feeding as well as fresh scat and tracks, which leads to roosting sites. Good scouting can also uncover dusting areas and/or strut zones. Whether it is preseason turkey scouting or scouting during the spring season, locating areas that hold gobblers is intrusive. You run the risk each time you enter a property or are trying to locate turkeys on public land of spooking a mature bird. Doing so once can be bad, doing so multiple times is detrimental. This is why trail camera turkey scouting is so effective.


Begin with aerial maps to locate potential areas where turkeys are likely to be or use past history to start identifying trail camera sites. Early preseason gobblers are bunched up in bachelor groups with a nonspecific routine. Birds then become much more focused on a daily routine driven by annual mating behaviors. Gobblers will split off, secure dominance areas, and seek out receptive hens. Trail cameras for turkeys are able to monitor these behavioral changes over time. Images and videos from trail camera turkey scouting show you exactly how mature gobblers are spending their days when it matters the most.

Information You Get from a Turkey Trail Camera Setup

Trail camera turkey scouting is used to capture five key pieces of information. All of which help you plan your turkey hunting strategy like where to position blinds, time of day to hunt an area, and which areas are likely to produce the biggest gobblers.

  1. Gobbler identification.
  2. Number of turkeys (gobblers, Jakes and hens) using a particular area.
  3. Locating key areas like dusting and strut zones.
  4. Timing of turkey activity.
  5. Determining when peak mating occurs.

Trail Camera Turkey Scouting Setups

Turkey trail camera setup can be overwhelming. There are many different areas where trail cameras can be deployed. Although, spring turkey hunting without scouting usually leads to very little success at the end of the season. Here are the main places where trail cameras for turkey scouting are most relevant and how to set up your cameras in those locations.

Fields

Turkeys at some point in the day will gravitate to a field or other opening. Particularly when the weather is less than ideal, turkeys will move into fields earlier and stay there longer. Generally, however, you would expect turkeys to arrive in fields during mid to late morning. Open fields offer plenty of forage and ideal places for gobblers to pursue hens.

Camera Setup

A unique camera position for scouting fields is to deploy the camera in the middle of the field. A camera stake can be used to mount the camera and by doing so you can capture exactly how birds enter a field. This position also allows for covering more of the field with fewer cameras.

The game camera should be high enough to view as much of the field as possible but low enough capture a turkey in close. Time-lapse image capture mode works well here to gather a history of how birds come and go during the day as well as how they interact over the course of time. A 15-minute interval is ideal to get a good sense of activity at a field location. Remember the goal in this turkey trail camera setup is to document field activity, mostly numbers and timing, in order to plan your hunt.

Roosting Areas

The number one advantage a turkey hunter has is knowing where a gobbler is roosting. Finding possible roosting sites involves on the ground scouting and some knowledge of what to look for such as mature hardwoods with adjacent open areas near cover. Again, sign like scat and tracks will provide clues and validate the areas you are scouting are roosting sites.

Camera Setup

Position cameras where you think turkeys will fly up from and down to. You want to be able to target these areas for hunting so you have to scout them to be successful. Since roosting occurs in the evening around dusk, good trail camera photos can be tough. The best trail camera can overcome this situation or you can choose video mode, which is less impacted by variable light conditions. Another option if you are not using video mode is to set burst mode to three. This will capture three consecutive images of hopefully a mature Tom preparing to fly to roost.


Feeding Sites

One of the best turkey hunting tips when it comes to feeding sites is being able to determine what is pass through feeding and frequent feeding. Turkeys are opportunistic. They will scratch along all day picking anything they can. However, some areas they come to they will feed heavily. These include soft mast producing areas of berries and grapes and also areas where there was a heavy crop of acorns. These frequent feeding sites are where you want to place trail cameras for turkeys.

Camera Setup

Place a game camera about knee high overlooking a feeding site. Any higher and you run the risk of missing turkeys because they are below the trigger sensor. Adjust camera sensitivity down to avoid picking up images of smaller animals since your camera height is lower to the ground. Also, increase the delay between photos. Turkeys will feed around for some time and you do not need a hundred images of the same bird feeding for an hour. The goal here is to assess which gobblers are using the feeding area.

Forest Trails

Finding turkeys on public land is more difficult not because of the pressure but rather the limited options when it comes to habitat. For example, there are usually fewer (if any) large fields for turkeys to use. Among the big timber, turkeys will often find planted logging roads, snowmobile trails, hiking trails or log landings that are grassed or have been planted for wildlife.

Camera Setup

On long straight trails or log landings, you want a turkey hunting camera setup similar to what was described for a field. In addition, you want to decrease the interval between photos. In these tight corridors, a bird can step out on the trail and step right back into nearby cover without ever showing up on the camera.

Trail camera turkey scouting has many advantages. Largely it allows you to scout with minimal disturbance before spring gobbler season and monitor birds throughout the season. Using these trail camera setups as part of your scouting program will help you kill a mature gobbler this spring.  

HAWK® OFFERS NEW LINE OF BLIND CHAIRS

The Hawk® Stealth Series of Hunting Chairs has a seat for you!  All chairs are made with the extremely strong and silent MeshComfort™ fabric that is used on Hawk® Tree Stands with durable, proven extended outdoor use.

STEALTH™ TRI-STOOL    MSRP: $39.99
Get into the game with this comfortable, carry-friendly Tri-Stool from Hawk®. It’s light enough to take on short hikes and sturdy enough for consistent outdoor use. The Hawk Stealth Tri-Stool is your perfect lightweight companion for all outdoor activities – camping, fishing, hunting, sporting event or simply for backyard comfort.  Folded size – 32” x 8”

STEALTH™ PAK-LITE™ CHAIR    MSRP: $44.99
ULTRA LIGHT NEVER CARRY A HEAVY HUNTING CHAIR AGAIN!  Heavy-Duty quality made, yet light weight carry that can be used for any outdoor event.  Ultra-Compact design weights less than 2.5-LBS and folds up into carrying bag that is size of a large loaf of bread!  Take the STEALTH PAK-LITE anywhere; keep one in your pack or hunting tote so you’ll never be without seating!

STEALTH™ SPIN CHAIR    MSRP: $109.99
Bone Collector® trusted, the Stealth Spin® lets you be stealthily in perfect position when it’s time to take a shot. Spinning a full 360-degrees, you can effortlessly turn to shoot out any side of your blind. Contoured MeshComfort™ backrest provides all-day support and cool breathability. Quickly folds down for easy transport with included sling.

STEALTH™ BIG DENALI™ CHAIR    MSRP: $149.99
Extra-wide & Extra-comfortable – This is the chair for those looking for some extra space. An XXL MeshComfort™ Lounger chair with a contoured, high backrest provides un-matched comfort and is even paired with molded foam armrests. Swivel silently 360-degrees for any angle shooting. Adjust each leg independently to level out on uneven terrain and adjust overall height from 18” to 20.5”. Swiveling, large “duck” feet on each leg provide added stability and keep the chair from sinking into soft ground. Steel tubing & powder coat finish provides long lasting use.

Hawk® also offers several other models of seats, both for ground blind hunting and for attaching to the tree.  Visit www.hawkhunting.com to see more.

 

2018 ATA BOOTH #2725

HAWK® – HUNT FROM ABOVE®

For more product information, visit www.HawkHunting.com

 

Hawk Group, LLC
Scott Lee
810-201-8275
scott@hawkhunting.com

HAWK® UPGRADES LADDER STANDS WITH HERCULES™

Hawk® introduces the HERCULES™ Cross-Grip Safety System.  Patent Pending Hercules Tension applies over 200-LBS of Gripping Force against the tree to securely lock the top of the stand in place from ground level, providing unbelievable stability and eliminates tipping and shifting!

This unique system can be described as ‘HERCULES CABLE JAWZ’ for the top of your stand and ultimately provides extreme locking stability.  After raising your stand, the Hercules™ Braided-Steel Cable System applies the extreme gripping force onto the tree that is over 6X greater force than most standard securing strap systems!  The Hercules™ Cross Grip Safety System provides an incredibly solid, safe and secure climbing experience.

The best part??  The Hercules™ Cross-Grip Safety System now comes standard on all Hawk® BIG DENALI™, SASQUATCH™ and several other Hawk Ladder Stands.  The system is easier to use stronger and more effective than any other lock down system available today.  Use Hercules™ to DRIVE SALES in 2018 and improve SAFETY for everyone!

 

 

2018 ATA BOOTH #2725

HAWK® – HUNT FROM ABOVE®

 

Hawk Group, LLC
Scott Lee
810-201-8275
scott@hawkhunting.com

HAWK® OFFERS NEW INNOVATIVE GAME CAMERA ACCESSORIES FOR 2018

CAMERA STAKEOUT™    MSRP: $27.99
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DEFENDER™ CABLE SECURITY    MSRP: $19.99
Strong, Quick & Convenient Security for your Game Camera and other equipment! Protect your gear with the HAWK® Defender™ Adjustable Locking Cable. This 7-foot long cable uses a Patent Pending adjustable locking mechanism to hold the cable securely at any position, meaning you can conveniently wrap and ‘cinch’ the cable around large or small items as needed. 5/16” Cut-Resistant Braided Steel Cable is coated with a protective vinyl that protects against scratches and the weather.  Features all-new Hawk® CHAOS™ Camo for ultimate concealment.

SHAG™ GAME CAMERA CONCEALMENT    MSRP: $12.99
Go undetected and blend your trail camera into its natural surroundings with SHAG™ by HAWK®. This is the ultimate camera ‘ghillie suit’, making your game camera practically undetectable from a distance to unsuspecting game, thieves and hunters!  The SHAG features an elastic brand that universally wraps around the body of any game camera in seconds.

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Take the hassle out of setting up your game cameras with the HAWK® Game Camera SpeedMount™.   The Quick Socket Adapter attaches to your camera ¼”-20 insert for a fast connection that allows the user to easily take the camera on-and-off the mount throughout the season when checking photos, replacing batteries, etc.  This rock-solid arm features sharp tree screw threads or universal T-Post adapter to work in all situations.

2018 ATA BOOTH #2725

HAWK® – HUNT FROM ABOVE®

Hawk Group, LLC
Scott Lee
810-201-8275
scott@hawkhunting.com

HAWK® LAUNCHES GHOST™ GAME CAMERAS

The all-new Ghost™ Cam lineup by Hawk® takes ultra-small, Intelligence Surveillance™ to the next level.  The smallest high-performance game cameras ever offered, the Hawk® Ghost Cam micro-size blends into nature and helps stay unnoticed to game and thieves alike.  Pull out of your pocket and capture detail-packed photos and HD video clips with blazing .25s trigger speeds!  Ghost Cam’s are built with an ultra-fast, reliable image processor and HD image sensor with built-in autofocus and Xfinity™ LED illumination to ensure sharp, detailed high resolution photos up to 20 Megapixels.

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GHOST™ HD 16                          MSRP: $109.99
GHOST™ HD 16 BLACK             MSRP: $119.99
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2018 ATA BOOTH #2725

HAWK® – HUNT FROM ABOVE®

Hawk Group, LLC
Scott Lee
810-201-8275
scott@hawkhunting.com

Ben Rising vs. Scrape Master – Illinois Booner

My first trip of the year to hunt Illinois is always a exciting time, just being able to leave your own state and leave work behind is a welcome feeling. Earlier in the summer I had strategically placed some trail cameras on field edges, future scrape sites and tight pinches that were easily accessible on the farm I was hunting – looking for a potential candidate to hunt in the fall of 2016. I also had prepped in the summer by hanging some of the HAWK Heliums in some major travel corridors between doe bedding areas close to some normal breeding scrapes anticipating pre-rut and rut activity.

The cameras never lie and after getting pictures of a buck I nick named Scrape Master, the pursuit was on. I knew by the intel that if I was to encounter him and get a shot it would be in one spot close to his favorite scrape that I always got his picture. I had secluded access that allowed me in and out without a lot of detection and the Helium KickBack afforded me the comfort I needed to sit all day when those daylight pictures started showing up.

The Story of ‘KNEE HIGH’ – 172″ IL Brute

With a season of trials and tribulations drawing to an end, Evan Smith climbed into his stand on the 1st of January with high hopes of harvesting a deer he called Knee High. Little did he know that only thirty minutes after being in the stand, that very deer would be standing twenty yards in front of his dad. Evan’s dad, Craig Smith, passed on the deer knowing how hard his son had worked to have the chance to harvest him. The Illinois giant slowly made his way through the hardwoods, where he would soon put on a show for Evan. As he came into view, it would take 12 minutes, a scrape and a rub to get to the moment of full draw. This would become the hunt of a lifetime for Evan and also a hunt that proves a fathers love for his son!

WATCH THE STORY & HUNT FOR KNEE HIGH BELOW!

Score: 172 1/8″

Age: 5 1/2 yr old

Date: 1/1/16

Location: Illinois

Treestand: Helium XL

Other Gear: Ranger Traction Climbing SticksSpeed Retract Hoist Reel

Summer Prepping For Whitetails

With the unofficial start of summer here (Memorial Day Weekend), there’s just one season that now separates us from climbing back into a stand for 2017. As summer days slip by, crunch time sets in and only time will tell if all the hard work during summer months will pay off.

In light of those long, hot, bug filled days we’ve compiled several articles we believe may provide some new insight to your summer scouting & preparation. None the less, hopefully some fresh reading to pass the time before Fall.

1) 4 Step Process to Planting Food Plots – Bone Collector 

2) Mark Drury’s Top 10 Pre-Season Scouting Tips – Mossy Oak

3) 6 Classic Summer Mistakes Most Deer Hunters Make – Wired To Hunt

4) Safely Hanging an Invisible Treestand – Robinson Outdoors 

5) QDMA’s Guide to Summer Food Plots – QDMA

6) 7 Steps for Taking Better Trail Camera Pictures – Outdoor Life

7) 11 Steps to a Perfect Deer Hunting Treestand Set-Up – Wired To Hunt

8) 3 Camera Locations for Summer Deer Inventory – Bucks Bulls & Bears

This summer grab your boots, trail cameras and a cold one at the end of the day – Deer Season 2017 is on the horizon.

21 PHOTOS TO REMIND US WHY WE LOVE SPRING

Days are growing longer, birds are gobbling and crops are being planted – No doubt Spring is here. Below are a few of our favorite photos to remind us just how much we love Spring & everything it brings.

1 – FULL STRUT


Easily found in a field nearby, toms can be seen strutting nation wide. Photo @Heartland Bowhunter

2 – HOT HEADED TEMPERS

With strutting jelly heads comes high stakes. Photo @Heartland Bowhunter

3 – LOVE IS IN THE AIR


Spring is here & so are the ‘Birds & the Bees’. Photo @Heartland Bowhunter

3 – SHEDDING FOR A NEW SEASON


A quick reminder that he’s still out there. Photo @The Legends of the Fall

4,5 – UNMISTAKABLE SOUNDS


Listen closely, he’s bound to be heard sooner or later. Photo @Bone Collector

Caught mid stride, this gobbler lets out a bellowing blow. Photo @Team Radical

6, 7, 8 – COMRADERY


Spring is often best shared around a tailgate with a few buds. Photo @Small Town Hunting

Fresh harvest wrapped up in bacon set over a bed of hot coals. Photo @Whitetail Fix

Bringing families closer one gobble at a time. Photo @Bone Collector

9 – COMBO MEALS


Grab some oil & turn the fryer on high! Photo @Team Radical

10, 11 – HEART PUMPING ACTION


Taking up close and personal to the next level. Photo @Small Town Hunting

How can a strutter at 10 steps not get your heart rate going? Photo @Bone Collector

12, 13, 14 – SPURS FOR DAYS


We’ve got a limb hanger! Photo @Heartland Bowhunter
And another! Photo @Small Town Hunting
Got Hooks? Photo @The Break TV

15-21 – SWEET SUCCESS


A Spring morning well spent. Photo @Final Draw
A different perspective. Photo @Team Radical

Looks like Tom got a headache from this deal. Photo @Trevor Olson

Picture Perfect. Photo @Heartland Bowhunter

Everyone loves a quick nap in the Spring sunshine! Photo @Whitetail Edge

Home of the red, the white and the blue. Photo @Heartland Bowhunter

Who said bowhunting was just for whitetails? Photo @Alpha Strong

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TY EASLY, HEARTLAND BOWHUNTER – 188″ NON-TYPICAL

I have been blessed in my 29 years of archery hunting to take a lot of great whitetail bucks, but never did I imagine I would have the opportunity at a deer of this caliber. November 14th, 2016 I headed to north central KS with my good friend and cameraman Wes Cooper to go hunt with Cody Kuck and Heartland Pride Outfitters. We met up with Mike Hunsucker and Brandon Franklin midday and headed west in pursuit of some giant whitetails. We did not arrive in camp till 10:30pm, but we were all pretty excited and stayed up till after midnight putting a game plan together for Tuesday. It did not take long to realize Cody and his guides had done their homework and showed us a good number of nice bucks that he had on the farms we would be hunting. Tuesday morning we started scouting at sun up and then spent the next six hours slipping in and hanging stands. We ended up hanging two sets on two different farms about three miles apart. Of all the bucks Cody had pics of, there was one non-typical that I really hoped to get a crack at. Only problem was he seemed to be the only shooter on that farm while the other farm had four different shooter bucks using it. We decided that first evening we would try hunting the non-typical.

With unseasonably warm weather the deer activity that afternoon was not great for Wes and I. Mike and Brandon on the other hand were on a big buck that afternoon, but could not get him close enough for a shot. Wednesday brought much of the same warm weather patterns and we decided to hunt the other farm near a pond. That morning we had an encounter with a shooter but he stayed just out of bow range. It was a long all day sit as the temps climbed up to 70 degrees. Sitting by the pond offered a great deal of waterfowl to keep us entertained, but by the end of the day we had only seen 4 deer. With a cold front moving in that night we had high expectations for the 3rd day.

I wanted to give the non-typical one more opportunity and the wind was perfect out of the NW that morning. The draw we hung the stand in was only about 600 yards long and maybe 100 yards wide with a CRP field to the west and a winter wheat field to the east side. We had our stand on the east side of the draw about 300 yards from the north end where the bedding area was located. That Thursday morning, November 17th, we climbed into our Hawk Helium XL stands before sun up with no idea what was about to go down.

At day break we had a doe come from the SE that caught our wind and right away we started to question our stand choice. After she spooked, I decided to rattle and a couple nice two year olds came in to check things out. About 8:45 I picked up the horns again and before I could finish my sequence, a nice three year old came to within ten yards of the tree. It was just one of those special mornings that the bucks really seemed to be on their feet and cruising. About 9:15 Wes and I were chatting it up in the stand and he asked me what the non-typical looked like. I got my phone out and pulled up a pic to show him. As we were looking at the picture I looked up the draw and saw a deer heading our way. Right away I knew it was a nice buck and as soon as I got my binos up I knew it was him. We watched as this giant made his way through the draw, heading right toward our tree. As I reached for my bow I gave myself a little pep talk: “you got this, just keep it together”. The Lord brought him just far enough down the draw before he stopped and appeared like he was going to head back to his bedding area. By this time he was at 26 yards and I was already at full draw waiting for him to give me that shot angle I needed to seal the deal. As he turned to head back north I released the arrow. I knew the shot was a little back, but was sure it was good enough to get the job done.

As an archery hunter you live for that moment. I was flooded with emotions that I had no control over. Twenty-nine years of bow hunting and I had just killed my biggest buck ever. Not until Cody met up with us and we walked up on him did I realize just how big he really was. This buck’s trail cam picks did him no justice. We had all thought he would be pushing about 170 inches, so when we walked up on this 20pt 188 inch giant…well let’s just say there was no ground shrinkage. And just when I thought this hunt could not get any better, Mike ended up killing another great buck the following morning. There is always so much more that happens on a hunt such as all the stories shared and friendships made along the way. I was truly blessed to be given such a great opportunity at a buck of a lifetime and even more blessed to get to share this moment with such good friends!

Score: 188 inches
Age: 6.5
Date: November 17, 2016
Location: North Central, KS
Treestand Model: HAWK Helium XL Hang-On
Other Hawk Gear: Tactical Solo Tree HookXtendible Bow Arm

Watch the hunt for this Giant on the upcoming Season 10 of Heartland Bowhunter – Only on the Outdoor Channel.

Monday 08:30 AM EST

Wednesday 08:30 AM EST

Thursday 09:30 PM EST

Thursday 05:00 AM EST

Heartlandbowhunter.com

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