Some geographical locations and terrain features are absolute magnets for wild turkeys. For those interesting in filling turkey tags, it’s crucial to know these, and why birds love them. Here, we’ll discuss how hunters can benefit from hunting around these locations. Here are 15 terrain features turkeys love.
Wild Turkey Needs
Just like whitetails and other big game species, wild turkeys have certain needs. Each of which center around food, water, shelter, or social aspects of their lives. In more detail, the primary needs include:
- Roost sites
- Landing zones
- Food sources
- Water sources
- Loafing areas
- Strut zones
- Nesting cover
- Dusting areas
Fortunately, many of these things are satisfied with certain terrain features. Below are some key habitat and topographical terrain features to watch for this season.
1. Ag Fields
Crop fields, such as soybean, corn, and others, are wild turkey hotspots. They especially like these after being plowed or seeded.
Flat benches along ridge lines are great spots to encounter turkeys. The power of these spots increase if the topography is very steep. It reduces the amount of flat ground these birds can travel along, and the benches are routinely used.
Any sort of stream, creek, or river bottom is likely to harbor turkeys. These areas are rich with insects and other food sources.
4. Big Pines
Turkeys like large pines for two reasons — roosting limbs and shade. These are solid spots to find turkeys sleeping and loafing.
5. Big Hardwoods
Large hardwood trees with horizontal limbs and open layout (to allow for fly-up and fly-down) are great spots for roosting. These also produce hard mast, which turkeys eat.
6. Cow Pastures
Turkeys love to go bugging. A great place to do this is in active cow pastures, where insects feast on the undersides of cow manure.
Areas in fields that depress back into the timber are oftentimes good places to hunt. Sometimes, turkeys and other wildlife use these to enter and exit the open.
8. Edge Cover
Most types of early successional cover are likely to attract hens for nesting cover. And as spring progresses, they will spend more time there. Toms will follow.
Any area of flat ground around hilly terrain will have the potential to attract turkeys. This is true in the timber and in open fields.
Like deer and other game, turkeys use pinch points and funnels. Finding these and setting up shop are good locations to intercept traveling turkeys.
Turkeys really seem to like the high ground. This is especially true when calling to turkeys. (That doesn’t mean you can’t call a turkey downhill, though. You can.)
12. Logging Roads
Turkeys don’t always walk down logging roads, especially in heavily hunted areas or locations with higher predator counts. Still, these can be good to walk down while locating turkeys.
13. Ridge Lines
Long networks of ridges are turkey hotspots, especially if bordered or paralleled down below by other habitat types.
Turkeys, like most legged animals, follow the path of least resistance. If a saddle allows them to cut through instead of over a hill, they will use it.
15. Swamp Islands
A dry island in a swamp is a great location to find birds. These places oftentimes offer turkeys sanctuary from hunters and predators.
Those who hope to locate the above terrain features, and more, have numerous methods for doing so. Old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground scouting is a good way to do this. So is using printed maps of hunting properties. Historically, this combo is how people accomplished this.
But there is a better way. Hunting apps are the way to go. As a member of the HuntStand team, I prefer that one, but did long before establishing a working relationship. It’s crafted for finding hunting hotspots. Its 3D mapping, contour, hybrid, outdoor, and property info layers are excellent for locating good areas on the properties you have access to hunt. So, get out there and find them this season.