-By Art Helin
“Trail cameras for scouting turkeys? Are you crazy?” asks one of the gentlemen in the crowd. I respond with a “maybe”, but this is one of the most overlooked and useful tools you have for turkey hunting. These high-tech gadgets are great. The most effective way to use cameras for turkeys is to put them up and leave them alone for a week or two before the season starts. Why constantly go in and out of your prime hunting area pressuring birds and educating them?
I place the cameras in three areas. The first is in the birds’ known strut zones – typically oak flats or small field edges where you find turkey scratch. The second is on food sources - clover, cut corn, alfalfa fields, etc. Third is on water sources (shallow backed- up creek areas, ponds and secluded mini ponds); mine happen to be on small man-made water holes or mini ponds. I place the cameras in these locations so I can time when to hunt these particular birds and areas. Many people hunt certain areas too early or too late in the day; by finding and timing these birds you will be in the right place at the right time. It is easier to call a bird to an area he wants to be in rather than somewhere he doesn’t.
I set my Moultrie I40 cameras on 2-shot mode so I can see what birds, and possibly how many, are there. This helps to figure out after you shoot a bird and have tags left, if there are likely to be birds still in the area. Check the cameras to get a pretty good idea of what they are doing at what time of the day. I like to move cameras about every week or so during the season because more pressure from you or the neighbors may change their patterns.
Most people have limited time to hunt and scout so why not put your cameras in the field and take some pressure off the birds, figure out their daily patterns, hunt them at the right time, and become a more successful turkey hunter? The bonus is most bucks will also be sprouting at this time so you can also get a good look at what’s to come this fall! Good luck and shoot straight.