You should begin scouting at least a two weeks prior to a spring or fall season, especially if you'll be hunting a new piece of public or private ground. And you should keep scouting on the days that you hunt. All sorts of factors, including weather, food sources and hunting pressure, cause turkeys to move around a lot during a season.
If the middle toe of a turkey track is more than 2 ½ inches long you're hot on the trail of a gobbler. Hen prints are smaller. Scout for fresh tracks in fields, burns and old roadbeds; around creeks, stock tanks and other water sources; and anywhere the soil is bare, muddy or sandy.
Gobbler scat is big and shaped like a fishhook. Hen droppings are smaller, round and spiraled. Fresh poop is moist, green and splashed with white. A field, oak flat, old logging road or similar feeding area or travel corridor is a good place to find droppings.
Did you realize that 5,000 to 6,000 feathers cover an adult turkey's body? Hens and gobblers lose some of 'em when molting, flying down from the roost, preening, fighting, etc. Find a long, white-barred wing feather with a square, rubbed tip, and you know a gobbler once strutted in the area. Look closely for the small, black-tipped breast feathers of toms. Lots of loose feathers below trees reveal a roosting spot for flocks in the fall.
In the spring check for long, narrow grooves in dirt or sand on either side of set of large tracks-that's where a lovesick gobbler scraped his primary wing feathers on the ground as he strutted around. Lots of strut marks in a dusty roadbed or sandy creek bottom might point to a hen-gathering zone that a tom visits most every day.
Scout for shallow bowls or "wallows" on the edges of fields and in sandy roads and creek bottoms. Biologists say that turkeys take dust baths to repel mites. Lots of dust bowls may indicate a hen-nesting area; toms should strut nearby in spring.