Turkey Scouting with Catman

Show Notes

Welcome to episode 1 of the Limbhanger Turkey Hunting Podcast. We're glad you're here! Spring is coming soon and there's not much worse than going into opening day without a gameplan or at the very least having knowledge of a gobbler in the area you hunt. We're joined by Jonathan Boheme (aka Catman) to talk about how he prepares for turkey season through pre-season scouting. 

Catman has earned the right to talk on the subject, as he consistently finds success on public land turkeys within the first few days of the season in his home state of Tennessee. Pre-season turkey scouting has allowed him to keep tabs on turkeys in their winter flocks, and follow them as they start to separate closer to spring, leading to a lot more success early in the season. 

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Limb Hanger Turkey Hunting podcast, where you're gonna hear opinions and discussions from all aspects of the Turkey hunting community. From legendary Turkey hunters who hunted in military fatigues to modern day Turkey hunters embracing technology while maintaining the traditions passed along for generations.

All are welcome at this round table conversation. The war creatures in the woods. That's the North American Wild Turkey

Catman. Like we mentioned, you're the episode one guest, so no pressure on you, but I'm. I sent out a text message to Joey and Matt, I don't know, a week ago or so, and with the idea of talking about scouting for turkeys and I think [00:01:00] everybody's mind immediately went to you and my right on that guy is that was pretty much, he's the poster child for Turkey Scout.

Yeah, as far as I'm concerned or as outta anybody that I see or follow on social media, I know Catman. He scouts more than anybody that I know of. Yeah, for sure. And so I wanna just dive into that. Not anything that a lot of people, a lot of people don't really do it a lot. Some people just go out maybe a couple days before season and.

Scout for fresh sign or listen for gobbles, but not a lot of people doing what you're doing as far as going out, a month in advance and trying to find, figure out where the flocks are at. So tell me kinda where you started doing that. I know you, you're not, you haven't been a lifelong hunter, but you have absolutely crushed it with deer and turkeys.

Tell me when you started figuring out that this scouting stuff was actually beneficial with birds. I guess it's just the mentality that more [00:02:00] Intel's always better. Like you can go into a new spot you've never hunted before and be successful with turkeys. They're vocal in the spring. As long as there's a population you can go in completely blind and do great.

I think the reason I scout is just to learn new places more than anything because I could keep hunting the same places I always do, and they've, they're loaded with turkeys and I'll circle back around to 'em often. , but it's the whole idea of all the untouched land out there I haven't even seen yet in learning a new place and finding out which places got more birds, which places are not worth going back to.

Sometimes the only way to find that out is to actually go and scout it ahead of time, so I don't waste a trip, hunting, which I'll go out there during season two and waste a trip or two here and there. We're talking, we're a month out from season and I'm just chopping at the bid.

I want a Turkey hump, but I can't, so what's the next best thing I can do? I can go out and listen to 'em, gobble on the roost and get some intel for when season does open [00:03:00] Catman since the season in Tennessee is opening two weeks later, is that gonna affect any kinda scouting? Are you gonna do anything?

Not really cause we'll have to see cuz I'll be hunting Alabama in probably Mississippi before Tennessee opened. Since Tennessee bumped back two weeks. I'll still scout at the normal times like end of February. I'm still gonna be going out there listening to it because they're not gonna gobble two weeks later.

I'm still gonna go out and listen and do some poking. Walk some hills. I like to scout rural hill country before season. Cuz not only do I get some potential intel, but it's good exercise. Get me knocked back into shape before I start chasing him. Cuz if you haven't been walking hills for months and all of a sudden you're out there on opening day and these two ridges over and you're out of.

after the climbing halfway up the first ridge. I don't wanna be like that . So I'll get out a month in advance and start, putting some miles in, [00:04:00] not only for Intel and here in Turkeys and finding turkeys, but also to get myself into shape. Do you. Do you take any, anything that you like, Turkey sidings during deer season?

Do you use that a whole lot? Do you think about do you mark turkeys that you see deer and deer season? Or is it just eh, they're here now, but they're definitely not gonna be here in the spring? No, I just make mental note of all of it. Every spot's different. Some places they'll be there in the spring, some places they won't be anywhere near.

But I at least make mental note of it. I'm I like to get an idea of the general population of birds. Are they thick in there or is there a few here and there, or am I, or is there none at all? So yeah, if I see 'em during deer season, I'll take note of it. Whether or not it affects the spring season just depends on the spot and, Situation.

I just, there's no telling really the re the reason I ask Go ahead. Yeah. But what you're talking about, I've, with the making mental note of turkeys in the [00:05:00] fall, I hear a lot of people, they'll say, oh, the turkeys are here during deer season, but they're nowhere to be found, during the spring.

And my question to that, for myself is why, where, where are they moving? Are they just, are these people just hunting a hundred acres and they've moved. To a different spot where there's better bugs and yeah, they just general protection. They in the fall, let's say for example, and this, and it's, there's no exact formula.

You can't say they got this and that, so they're gonna be here. It could be different from one spot to the next. . But I think in general, say in the fall you got some big woods and there's a bumper crop of acrons. They're gonna be up in those hills in the big woods and then say in the springtime, you got thicker cover and crop fields down in the bottoms away from the big woods.

You're probably gonna see more strutting in the fields and hands nesting in the briar patches along the fields in the spring. And thing is in the spring. They dispersed. [00:06:00] So your odds of seeing them in different places is higher in the spring. So what I've noticed with fall flocks or winter flocks is, I would say more often than not, they're gonna be there in the spring, but not all of them.

Say you see 30 turkeys in a flock while you're deer hunting, you're not gonna see 30 turkeys there. But there's probably going to be a couple turkeys, at least in the area. If the habitat's right, there's still gonna be something there. I've seen that a lot. You've got me wanting to dive off into Habitat and talking about, food and whatnot like that, but we'll save that for later in the show.

Yeah. I think whenever I think about scouting for turkeys, mentally the first thing that comes to my mind is going out and listening, right? Listening for gobbles. early in the morning, maybe right before the sun goes down and right before it comes up, going out and doing that. I'm interested Catman, as far as your pre, pre, pre-season [00:07:00] scouting, are you doing a lot of covering ground and actually looking for Yeah.

Scratch and sign and things like that? Yeah, like I said, that goes back to the whole putting miles into getting into. They're flocked up, before season. If I go a month before season, they're pretty well flocked up. So you could walk five miles and not see a track, and then you could get into a big flock of them.

So yeah, you're gonna have to cover some ground if you're not listening on the roost, if you're like midday walking and not visually scouting or not, sorry, not listening for birds, if you're visually scaling y yeah, you're gonna have to. Cover some ground to, to find them. If I walked a mile, if, let's say I walked one ridge, let's say there's a chunk of public land and it's got five or six different big ridge systems and I only walk one of 'em and don't see any turkeys I could say, oh, there's no birds in there.

But I is there really no birds in there? I didn't walk even a quarter of it. Yeah, you can hear a lot [00:08:00] further. You're really willing to walk technically. Yeah. And so that's where the getting out early in the morning and waiting till, closer to season comes into play when they're gobbling more getting ears is the best, easiest way to get intel on where burns their head.

But again, I mean if it's late February, early March, I got nothing better to do. I'm gonna be out there walking and just cause why not? I'm curious. There's always something to. So I've heard people for a long time talking about how you should never make a Turkey call at a Turkey before Turkey season.

That that's what people generally believe. It's illegal on public, on WMAs in Tennessee, it's illegal from March 1st until the opening of season. Really? Yeah. Like you can't make a Turkey sound on a w. From March 1st until opening day in Tennessee. I think you can still anywhere.

Oh, wow. I think [00:09:00] different from state to state. I don't, it's just the whole thing of like potentially educating 'em, making 'em nervous. If you call one in and it doesn't see a hand, SP Yeah. I, it's not gonna ruin anything, but it's, it's not a good idea either. Like why would you go out there calling them before season?

What's the point? The whole point of calling 'em is to call in and kill it. So why would you call to them now? Locate or call maybe just to make 'em gobble, but yeah, what's the point of going out and calling if you're not trying to kill them? first. Yeah, there's there's gonna be plenty of guys during season that are gonna be yelping on box calls and stuff from those roads and trails and so on and so forth.

Anyway, there, there's no need to have that a month before season too. I've just had, I've had weird thoughts about like conflicting thoughts about that versus like walking in, walking around. Putting boots on the ground in habitat where, there's turkeys at, I guess that's always been like the mental thing.

If I get in there and [00:10:00] they see me and I bust them out of there I feel like that could be more damaging, whereas it makes sense. I've never done this. I don't , this isn't something I typically do. But being able to just walk ridges, make sounds, trying to get one to gobble, to mark I've, I don't know.

I. Wonder why that's not, obviously, if it's illegal, then that makes a lot of sense. Does that make sense? I wonder if it's, does that make sense what I'm asking? I wonder if it's one of those things I wonder. It's one of those things was A hunter outcry way back when. Yeah. Like it was just one of those things that enough people got worked up about Hey, we don't need people coming into the WMAs and calling to these turkeys because they'll get call shy and maybe, yeah.

That's a, it's a thing on heavily pressured, Lance. Say you gotta hunt club or a wma, you don't want 15, 20 guys coming in doing the same thing. I see why it's illegal on public. Private. I don't see why it should make a difference. [00:11:00] That's up to you. If you wanted, if you got your own birds to yourself, do whatever you want.

I don't care. Yeah. The way I've seen it and read it, calling to a bird is you're pursuing it and you were technically hunting that bird. Yeah that's probably how the game wardens would see it actually hunting. Yeah. Cause we've all been there where we're riding in a truck and we see a Turkey on the side of the road and we try to call to it and have it gobble.

Technically I'll horn everything. I left my motor at 'em and make it gobble. I know you, you got, you want, you wanna see it, but it, the minute you call to it, you're technically pursuing that bird. Yeah. So that's where I see it and how I read it. That's not something that's really, I really haven't ever heard a discussion on the topic, to be honest with you.

It's just like one of those things that people don't really think about. But I could see how a beginner Turkey hunter would think, I'm gonna go find turkeys. How do I find turkeys? I go out on a ridge with a tag on box, call and start [00:12:00] calling, start wailing on it. Get up and get ahoo. , get a hooten stick and learn how to use it.

Cuz that'll make him sound off. Yep. I really don't care one way or another, if you call it a turkeys before season, but if you're sharing the land with other people, especially public or anywhere that's got a bunch of people hunting the same property, it's it's courtesy and common sense not to go around blowing a Turkey call before season because you're not the only guy hunting those ridges.

You want to be considerate. I think somebody else might wanna do the same thing and then all of a sudden you got four or five guys running the same ridge blowing Turkey calls and it's not even seasoned yet. Just look at your situation. If you got other fellow owners to keep in mind, then you know, use common sense.

But if you got those bursts to yourself, I don't care what you do, call Tim before season or don't like. So I guess all this, you're the only one hunting him. All. This kinda leads to the question. For me of where or what are you doing as far as like [00:13:00] listening times, early in the morning, late in the evening?

Are you just going out and listening or are you actually doing something to try to like coax on a gobble before season? I don't really carry any calls. I'm just listening. I'm waiting for the sunrise to make 'em gobble. Yeah. When the cracks light, they, most of the times they're gonna gobble in the morning evening's a little more hit and miss.

But you get, get out there in a good morning. In the early spring, if you're within earshot of gobbler, they're probably gonna gobble at least a couple times. If, and on a hot morning, they're gonna gobble 50 times, a hundred times. So there's no point it on this. To me at least, there's no point in I think I think they'll probably gobble better too before season, before that pressure gets in there and they start getting little lines to it.

So they, yeah. So they're gonna gobble a lot anyway, I think. Yeah. They haven't been, they haven't been spooked by people with Turkey calls yet. And they're also flocked up, so they're like, they're not on edge yet. They're, and [00:14:00] they do feel safer in winter flocks. You see how dumb they act when they're in big flocks.

You walk into a field and they just walk to the other side and look at. When they're split up in the spring they see you and take off flying. It's like a different, they're like a different animal. So yeah, in the before season, they're flocked up, they're feeling comfortable and they're feeling frisky.

They're gonna be more talkative and less skittish. So just get out there in a good listening spot and just be quiet and wait for the more. Chances are you're gonna have hoot anyways if you got a lot of Barred os around. You won't even have to, they're gonna gobble at everything I had last year.

But was it two weeks before season? I don't remember. Scouted a new spot, one of those spots I just went to, to walk. I started out listening and then I walked the rest of the day. I get out there, it cracks daylight. I'm on top of a big bluff so I can hear all directions and a couple birds start, gobbling owl goes off, and then a coyote.

How they gobbled at the coyote, it's like I didn't have to do anything but sit there and listen. . [00:15:00] How long ago did you say that was? Last year. Oh, last year. Last year. Two weeks now. I know a lot of people get on the roost hunt, frenzy that they're gonna go roost to bird the day before a season or whatnot and go hunt 'em the next day.

So I had a conversation with one of my buddies. . He said, if I go Rooster Bird, two weeks, go find out where they're roost. He said, are they gonna be in the same tree? And me? Oh, I'm telling, they're I, they could be, I feel like they have five or six different roost trees, but they're gonna be in that same general area.

That's what, just what I've saying at least in the same general area, but, , there's no nothing sentenced stone with turkeys. Yeah. They've got a mind of their own. They might be in the same exact tree. They might be two trees over. They might be, two farms over , there's no answer to that question.

I guess the answer is go out and find out. If you ro them, [00:16:00] you reached them two weeks before season. That's good. There's turkeys in the. That's about the best intel you got is they're in the area and they like to roo there sometimes, but are they gonna be their opening day? Go on opening day and find out.

Yeah. And if they're not then get up and move and start find and go, find them. And this is, and that's what, that's what you're saying with your, that's all you're doing with your scouting adventures. A month before the season, you're getting ideas where these turkeys are currently to make the right move before season.

I'm making sure that they're there, first of all. Yeah. I'm learning the lay of the land, so if there's like a ravine, like a dish that's too deep, or a woven wire fence on the property line , I need to know about stuff like that, and knowing there's turkeys in the area. That's the main thing.

But no, if they're I'm not trying to find an exact spot to kill one opening morning. I just know where I'm gonna start out. Yeah. If I there. Yeah. And like you said, with the knowing the land and the fences and whatnot, I've [00:17:00] had issues where I've gone into somewhere blind and you can look at a map and read a map, as well as you can read a map without walking the land.

And there may be a ravine off in front of you and no wonder that Garber. Fly over to you. He wasn't gonna, come over to you anyways cuz of what it was. So That's great. Just being in the woods, being familiar with what you're gonna be around. Yeah. Yeah. And he like goes back to what I first said in kinda intel helps.

I'm just out there getting intel. I'm not, it's not telling me exactly where to set up, opening morning, it's just telling me, giving me an idea of the lay of the land and if there's birds, how many there are, where they were hanging. where they might be hanging out, just a starting point.

Same thing with map, like you said, like you can read a map as good as you can, but that's still just a starting point. Yeah. You still gotta get out there and hunt. Gotta be in person when you're out there. Finding signs, scratching and stuff. Would imagine a Turkey eat anything. We know that.

Are you [00:18:00] funding certain. Are you finding certain kind of food sources earlier in your scouting? Like in that late February, early March? Are they kinda starting up maybe higher up on the ridges? If there are anyon maybe early on and then maybe as the, like the month of March, let's say. As it progresses, do you find more sign like in creek and river bottoms when stuff is starting to kinda green up and they're scratching around logs or getting grubs and bugs and stuff outta those?

Are you just seeing certain types of food source preseason, like in, is there like a timeline, so to speak, that you're finding certain things? Not really. Honestly, they're pretty much all over and. Brings up an interesting point. A lot of the places I scout that and hunt that have a lot of turkeys are mixed habitat where you'll have hardwood ridges and haulers that come down to a creek, and then there's a cornfield or some ag or something.

So you [00:19:00] got a little bit of everything. , and they're back and forth. They're not on one versus the other. They'll be in that field sometimes, and they'll be in the woods sometimes, and they're constantly back and forth. There's no, I haven't noticed a one food source that turkeys eat. They pretty much just scratch around and eat whatever they can find, wherever.

They got greens and maybe some bogs and maybe some leftover grains from the ag fields. And then they've got maybe some leftover aprons and other stuff, and bogs like up under logs and stuff in the woods. They're pretty turkeys. Eat whatever they can find wherever they go. And the best places are the mixed habitat that's got food everywhere.

So I don't notice anything specific. They're just back and forth. I guess the specific thing I notice is a little bit of everything in one place and usually a body of water or something. I always thought it was really cool. I always thought it was really cool coming across those big rotten logs that they've torn into.

It almost looks like a bear been in there where they tear into them things and get them grubs. [00:20:00] Yeah, I don't know if I've actually noticed that, but yeah, they'll scratch whatever they can get into. And usually like the most sign that I will see you when I was scouting those late winter flocks is.

Scratching the leaves, and you can see 'em scratching fields too, even where they raked the whatever's on the field, or whether it's, greens or leftover corn stubble, they'll scratch in that too, but a lot of times it's in hardwoods where I see little pines, where I see the most scratching, and that's obvious.

You know when you got it raked to the side and you see a couple hackle feathers and maybe some droppings. Armadillos will throw me off sometimes, cuz they, every now and again, armadillos will just rake a spot clean instead of digging their, like their little holes that they do to eat grows.

Every now and again, armadillo will rake a spot. It looks like Turkey scratch at first, but if you start poking around and you're seeing the little holes in the ground, you [00:21:00] armad. . They have dang armadillos. They've fool me with turkeys and deer more than probably any other critter. Hello? Armadillos. Use a deer trail too.

Deere will use an armadillo trail. I'm not sure who started the trail, but they used the same trails. . Yep. And they sound like a dang deer. To me, there's not anything that's not like a Kroger bag running through the woods there, there's not another movement in the leaves that sound more like a deer than an armadillo because like they'll move just like real quick and they'll stop and it's it's a, it's like a, it's a heavy sound cuz they, if you actually watch one, they don't really freaking know where they're going.

Like they just kinda, they're kinda just going wherever the Lord leads. And this was I think this was pretty close to you, Joey, back in October, I deer hunted this spot, and it was a rut hunting spot, but I was coming in there a little early to see if I would catch a deer cruising.

Didn't see any deer that day, but I get up on the ridge and there's an armando up, [00:22:00] so I sneak up to it and caught him by the tail. And took a picture of him and let him go, and he ran. He ran off and I heard another movement, and there's another armadillo right next to him. I'm like, dang, they're out everywhere.

I climb up a tree and I'm hunting for a couple hours and I hear something. Here comes an armadillo feeding down towards me. I shot that one. But . Yeah. They even just walk up to 'em and pick 'em up. And if you, if they hear you or smell you, especially if they smell you, they spook, but they're about they're worse than a pig.

They're . They can't see good. They act like they can't see at all. Yeah. Yeah. But if they catch wind of you, they'll stick their nose in there and you know you're bust today and you're not gonna catch it. To this day, my best video on Instagram. Instagram reels most views is when I spit out my Copenhagen on a dang illa, like double lunged him on shop placement.

And it just pops up like a little weirdo and does this weird roll [00:23:00] and runs out of there. Jumpy. I saw somebody online. Forget where it was. Somebody called 'em startle pigs. . Startle pigs. That's they're possum. That's possum on the half shell is what they are. Yep. It's possum on the half shell dude.

Possums are the same Dang way though. You can just walk up to one. I picked one up in Kentucky. I was deer hunting Kentucky. No, I was Kentucky hunting that day in December. In Kentucky and I was heading back to the truck and I walk up to this possum and I petted him on the back, picked him up, set him down, petted him, and he just sat there again.

Cuz they play possum. They actually I don't think they can physically move when they go into that state. They just go limp. Like it's like a defense making They'd just lay there. He'd just lay there and drooled, and then as soon as I turned to walk away, he took off and started running away.

Yeah. It's like the fainting goats, they can't control it. They [00:24:00] just go limp through. That's like they're, I don't know. I don't know why it's a defense mechanism. It seems counterintuitive, but it's Yeah, but they, and they can sense when you're gone too. That's the funny thing, like I've stood over one and it didn't.

It just stayed there. But as soon as I like turned my back or walked off, it was gone. Soon as you turn your back, get up and walk away, it's weird. All right, so bringing it back to turkeys Catman. I know you've got, you use a boat a lot in your in your videos and stuff. For deer and turkeys.

It does seem like up until a little more recently, you used the boat more for turkeys. Does it come into play and you're scouting at all? Do you ever go, just sit out in the lake between a bunch of ridges and listen? If I do, I'm fishing. I'm not gonna take the boat out just to listen unless I'm hunting usually.

Cuz you cover a. Of ground quickly with the boat. You can sit in the middle of the lake and listen to six [00:25:00] different ridges and then take off and go hunt over there. That's one of those things where I don't usually, like when I'm scouting, I'm getting outta the truck and I'm walking most of the time.

I'm not saying I won't scout from a boat. If I'm, right place, right time, I got the boat, I wanna go out. Yeah. But no, usually if I'm hunting off the boat, I'm just going out there based off previous intel, or I'm just going in blind and taking the boat out and hopping around and see what I can find.

It seems like I kinda wanna, go ahead, Parker. I'm gonna stick on this just real quick, Joey. I know for me with a boat it's a big commitment and I think that maybe what you're saying, if you're gonna go out and commit to going and listening, it's a little bit easier to commit to going fishing and actually going and doing something with your time, maybe after you listen or whatever.

But the other thing about the boat, one of the reasons why I like it, because personally I don't do [00:26:00] a lot of pre-season scouting and so during season, it is absolutely beneficial to go out and listen and cover a lot of your ears, can cover a lot of ground. in one spot rather than walking in. And so I typically lean on more then that, that brings up an interesting topic is a lot of places you can take a boat to, you can also walk to, not everywhere.

A lot of times use a boat to get to places where you can't park and walk. But a lot of times, let's say we got this side of the. , there's a parking spot and it's like several hundred acres. You can bounce around down the shore by boat where you can park and walk in, and then you got another spot on the other side of the river.

You can park and walk in. But if you put the boat in at the ramp, you can hunt both sides quickly. So if I'm scouting, it goes back to the whole covering ground and getting exercise thing where I'm trying to cover those ridges physically. I'm not trying to [00:27:00] listen from a boat when I'm scouting.

I'm trying to. Walk some miles, and if there's a place to park, then why would I take the boat if I'm trying to cover ground, if I wanna listen and go out on the boat and hunt both sides of the river, then I'll do that during season Mo more than likely. I think I think a boat would probably help you too with your approach.

Like with a a pretty pressured area, say a bunch. A lot of the access is from a trail up on top of the ridge. Every Joe Blow is gonna walk down that and blow their, and. Try to solicit, any kind of gobbles. But if you slip in there, maybe in that creek bottom, at the head of that creek, bottom in a boat and you chop and you hop out and you start calling, maybe your, the odds of you here in a Turkey have increased pretty significantly.

Haven't called from where everybody else has been calling. Yeah, that's a good point. Is calling from a different angle. , if I do run into that kind of pressure, [00:28:00] it doesn't seem to matter if it's by boat or by land. If there's a lot of pressure, there's gonna be people on boats too, so you're gonna have other guys coming in from their boat up into the cove.

So I don't like, personally, I haven't noticed much of a difference in that, cuz if there's pressure, it's coming from both angles. More than likely, if everybody knows about a spot. It's say 70% of it, you have to have a boat to access. Then everyone who hunt there is gonna probably have a boat.

So it just depends on where you're at and what the pressure's that's right. I found that the best places to use a boat are where there's not a whole lot of boat access because most people are gonna choose walking in over using the boat. Yeah. So you'll find less pressure. That's, yeah, that's what I'm saying.

It all depends on where you're at. If there's not much boat access, I'm probably gonna walk in myself too. It just depends where I'm hunting and what's the best way to get in there. , that's my, that you just proved my point. And I would be back there where [00:29:00] all the stinking turkeys are at, not shooting them.

And you'd probably call 'em in from the road. . Where the birds at? At least I'm silverware, where's there a bird that doesn't have three other guys calling too? I use a boat. I use a truck. I use a bicycle. I don. Did you seem like you're successful a lot early, like super early in the season, and I know one year I was following along with you pretty closely.

May have been two or three years ago. It was like back to back. But I do know that you have done that a lot where you kill pretty good amount of birds early. Do you feel like that's because of your scouting? Or do you just feel like maybe you've hunted these areas for so long you can pretty well.

I don't know cuz I've got into birds that in new spots that I just found and I've got into birds that I knew were gonna be there cause they were always there. I don't always do good early. Like I might kill one or two. Past couple of years I've done pretty good. Early last year I'd actually tagged out a little bit later.

I wasn't shooting too good last year. I missed a few. [00:30:00] But I was in birds last year. I was in birds all season long, but I wasn't doing, I wasn't doing good on the killing end, but I was in birds more often than not last year. A lot of it, like if I'm getting into a bunch early, there's no telling.

It could be a spot like 20 13, 20 14. I wasn't the only spots I knew at the time, and they were covered up in birds, so I was killing birds early. . I don't know, like last year I was hunting some new ridges that I hadn't even really scouted, like opening weekend I was driving around hitting new spots and getting into birds.

So it just depends. I kind of wanna veer to your outta state. Stuff. You said you were gonna go to Alabama and I forget where else You said maybe Mississippi, whatever's opening before Tennessee and I kinda wanna pick your brain about how you prep and quote unquote scout or maybe even e Scout for those trips.

I kind of wanna hear your process because when [00:31:00] I. When I go outta state, I start homework. Of course, I'm gonna be gone for a week and I'm usually gone Oklahoma or Nebraska or some of those way out west places somewhere. I'm just committed to be for a week and I'm not gonna be able to get out there and scout beforehand.

So I do homework months in advance. I was talking to my biologist in Florida actually today, and I ain't going down there for another couple months. . So I kinda wanna see, do you make any kind of phone calls to property managers or some of those regional offices to these states that you're going?

And maybe what are you looking for in some of those out-of-state WMAs that would make you wanna go set your boots on there? I haven't really made calls or asked anybody. Honestly, most of the time I'm. Going off of map scouting and county harvest data, if they got that available I'll make sure you know that there is a population that's worth hunting there.

If it's a really low harvest county, I'm probably gonna steer [00:32:00] away from it. If it's really high Harvest County or it's near a state line or near a big city, I'm a, I'm gonna expect more company. But I just try to find that middle ground, make sure that. Reporting a good number of birds there being harvested.

And then I'm looking for that mixing habitat on the map. I'm looking for a little bit of everything in some good woods, maybe a couple fields here and there. And I'm not just looking at the public, I'm looking at surrounding private. Turkeys don't see property lines. I'm looking for something, the whole area looks good for turkeys.

And then zero in on a few spots, drop a few pins, and then I'll go. If I have time I'll go scout, but a lot of times I don't have time to scout, so I'll just go. , I'll pick my listening spot on the map. That'll be a high point. And and hope for the best. Go there first morning and climb up on top of hill I've never been on before.

And listen, it's usually what I do now if I've been there before, say Alabama, I might go back to a place I've hunted there before and I know where I'll start out based on [00:33:00] hunting there in the past. But if it's a new spot, I'm just kinda winging it. If if a WMA has like harvest data for. WMA harvest data.

How heavily are you relying on that data to tell you whether or not you wanna hunt there? If there's so many birds killed? If there's a bunch of birds killed in a smaller wma, like I would assume that the population would be denser there. Either that or there's just a bunch of dudes going in there and killing turkeys.

Are you? Yeah. The small, a small WMA with a high harvest count. probably, again, it's not gonna be my first choice. I know there's gonna be a lot of birds there, but that's, there's probably gonna be a lot of people cuz you know, harvest data is birds that have actually been killed, so there's more birds getting killed on less area.

There's more, a lot more people in there hunting too. So I try to find the middle ground cuz I like, I don't wanna have no birds, I don't wanna struggle to find a bird, but I also don't want to have five other guys hunting the same bird. So I try to find a middle ground. A little pressure here and there.

You're [00:34:00] gonna run into people pretty much everywhere, but I try to find a sweet spot where it's enjoyable hunting. I have a lot of woods to myself, but also have a few bursts to hunt. I kinda nerded out one day and made me a big spreadsheet of all the WMAs in this particular state, and I got the the harvest data they had that listed the amount of acreage in each wma and I compared.

Like how many acres it took to kill one, one Turkey. Basically, just, it was just simple division. And then I even broke that down further. Now I have no idea if this is ever gonna help me at all, but I'm just telling you, I just got on a roll one day and I just started playing with stuff.

Was this like late January when you were coming outta your cave? Yeah. Yeah. This is right about Christmas time when stuff started kicking off in the Turkey mines. But so yeah, I would figure out, How many acres it took, how many acres per [00:35:00] Turkey that WMA had. And then I would compare that number.

I was like, ok, took this many ac, took this many acres to kill that Turkey. Now what's that compared to the total wma? Is that a small percentage of that wma, or is that a larger percentage of that wma? So I don't really know how I'm gonna really apply any of this, but I just nerded out one day and started doing a bunch of math and Excel.

I did the same thing. Not last year, but the year before. I may have sent it to you. Not the same thing, similar kind of thing with harvest density like birds per square mile by county. I didn't go by wma, I went by county. Yeah. Cause I was looking at the whole Turkey population. Probably sent it to you. I think I may have sent it to you, but I did. Yeah. You did a county map of the state of Tennessee and I don't send this to hardly anybody. It's like my secret little map that I have for myself and a couple buddies. This was from 2020. So I would have to go back and do an updated version, or I'd like to go back and do several years to show a trend like which counties are coming up, which are coming [00:36:00] down.

But the one I have is just for 2020, which is a record Har Harvest number because of Covid, so many people were hunting. It's a good idea of like how many birds there are. Cause everybody was out killing them. I color shaded it from light blue to dark blue being most birds per square mile per county.

So I went, I took a county map and then I went and googled the acreage or square miles per county which was pretty easy to find on Google. How many square miles is it? Each county. And they actually as a website I found, actually had a list which I copied and pasted into a spreadsheet and punched in the math and came out with birds per square.

For the harvest report per county. And so then I just took that birds per square mile, turned it into a percentage of blue. And so I would take the blue and solid blue would be like the highest county, which was like ridiculously off the charts. And so that, like the darkest color blue was the highest harvest density county, and then the lightest [00:37:00] color was white, which.

I'll go ahead and say it was Shelby County around Memphis. It was the worst in all state , but I did that and just color shaded all the counties so you could really get a visual on not just number of turkeys, but density of turkeys in that county. Cuz say you got one county around here that's like maybe a third the size of your average county in Tennessee.

So the harvest numbers are lower, but it's probably one of the most densely populated counties for Turkey in the. and there's no public on it either. It's all private, but it doesn't rank high on the list cuz it's such a small county. But it is probably one of the best counties in the state for Turkey.

I'll just move my bike. Yeah. I'm the that, that's deep. Yeah. Yeah. Y'all started talking about Excel spreadsheets and I was just like, all yeah. Like you, like I'm let Joey take nerd. Go to sleep for a minute. . Yeah. I did this one night. I got into it for a few hours and made that map. I was like, I'm and I'm not looking for the highest density to hunt, cuz that's where all the people.[00:38:00]

I'm looking for those sweet, middle ground stuff that gets overlooked. Like some random county that's in the middle of nowhere and it's like decently, decent number of birds for the area. So I'm like, yeah, that's where I want to go cuz it's not gonna be on most people's radar, but it's also not devoid of turkeys.

It's actually you got a huntable and one amount of turkeys. That's kinda what I'm looking for. We should do a, we should do that across the whole. We should do a charity event. Raise money for something and you auction off a couple copies of this whole sheet right here. Nope. You ain't putting a price.

Not even make your own. I'd rather not even for the, it doesn't take, but it doesn't take but a little research. You can make your own math. So what? The same way I did, but I'm not gonna just give that away. Cause I'll put my work. that's like free intel. Like I'd put the work in for that. I'm not just gonna yeah.

Say, Hey, here take my map. Like I give it to Joey cuz we're, we live one county over we're pretty close. We hunt the same area. So I gave it to him. [00:39:00] But I'm not just yeah, that's not going to anybody. You want to, you wanna find that info out? Go look it up yourself. Go do it.

Yeah, it's up there. I'd rather put my social security number on social media than tell people where I heard about Turkeys . Yeah. But catman, you you were saying that. You needed to like line up a bunch of years and figure out a trend. Guess what? I did that too. . I did. Don't have to meet up off, off of off re off the record.

We're gonna No, man, y'all talk about it. Just hash it out right here. Hash. We, me and Joe, we are gonna put our heads together and put out a whole master plan for turkeys, . I'll send it to you. I'll send it to you, just cause you sent me your map. I'll send you my giant spreadsheet of of numbers.

But yeah, I, it's. But I did that. I did exactly what you were talking about. Kind find that middle ground, find a county out in the middle of the another thing I did too, you can get OnX or just whatever other mapping tool probably, and you [00:40:00] can draw a radius ipo. Think actually I did 60 radius around each major city and if a wma, fell within that 60 mile radi, I didn't write it off, but it wouldn't be my first choice to go to because I kinda figured it would get hunted pretty hard.

And so then I would, yeah, I would compare. That's important not to write a spot off. Yeah, completely. Like it might not be your number one choice, but hunting pressure and Turkey population. You can find out if birds are there by being there. Hunting pressure's gonna change sometimes more dramatically than the Turkey population.

Yeah, like for example, there's places close to town here that you know, you would expect would be hammered in. Most areas around here are hammered. It's a highly populated. Mean, we got a million people living here in a lot of, out-of-state travelers too. But you can still find pockets around here and just have [00:41:00] like nobody's been in here.

Where are they at? And then on the flip side, I was talking about those middle of the nowhere counties a couple years ago. I go out and scout and hunt one of those spots and I've only hunted it one time and I killed my bird. And I had that bird to myself because of a really deep ravine between me and the parking area.

I had another guy from Mississippi who was hunting there who hunted the next ridge over, and he said he had people walk in on him all morning. There was nine trucks at the gate when he left at nine in the morning. And nobody got to my bird because of the terrain was pretty rough, but the amount of people hunting that place really surprised me.

I thought it was gonna be overlooked. And they were all locals too. It wasn't, no there was no out-of-state travelers. They were all local owners. But it was pretty heavy hunting pressure in the middle of nowhere on a kind of no name place. So you really don't know what the hunting pressure's gonna be till you go.

Yeah. In some of those places that you see around some of these big towns like, like you and I know about, those are places [00:42:00] that maybe you wait and check out either a couple weeks into the season or you get chance to hunt middle of the week, just times when you know that the pressure is gonna be reduced versus that opening weekend.

Yeah, opening weekend. Almost every w a in Tennessee is gonna get hammered, or it used to be in the past. I'm anxious to see what this is. Every everywhere for that matter. Yeah. I'm anxious. I'm anxious to see what this two week thing does for our pressure, because I think Kentucky may open that same weekend.

Does same. We open the same day Kentucky now. Yeah. So my plan is to hopefully tag out cause they dropped a bag limit on us again. . My, my hope is to tag out pretty quick and just start going to Kentucky until I tag out there, hopefully. And then the sooner I tag out, the more other places I can hunt.

But yeah it's gonna cut the later opener's gonna cut down on some of the out-of-state pressure just. We opened before a lot of other southern states. I know Arkansas. I know some guys in Arkansas that are still gonna be coming [00:43:00] to hunt here, but they also have told me that they know a lot of guys from Arkansas who are not going to be coming over here this year because of the later opener.

So it's gonna cut back on some of the traveling hunters, but you're still gonna have your diehards, like you and me, like all of us. They're still gonna come and hunt. Why not? Yeah, there's just a lot more options that are open in the middle of April versus at beginning of April.

You got states in the Midwest and like you said, Kentucky, I dunno, Indiana, Tennessee, you couldn't go wrong with either, so you pick picky, either or both. , , they'll spread at the same time. It'll spread people out for sure. I'm just to see how much it really. Poor South Florida Pen.

Yeah. that, no, we feel bad for those people South Florida. I've not hunted there. Maybe someday I will. It's not high on my bucket mess. It just doesn't look enjoyable to me. I don't like swamps for one thing. I don't, regardless of where, I don't like hunting the swamps. [00:44:00] So had swamps, Palm Palmettos and 5 billion other people named Very wary Turkey.

It's just not on top of my list. I know it's everyone goes down there, it's the slam. Everybody wants to get there, Oceola. So I get it, but I don't, I guess I just don't care about a slam that much. Not bad enough to go down, fight that crowd in a spa. Maybe if it was hills, I'd be more inclined. I don't like, I don't like it where the wa where the ground is not ground You.

Yeah, the water's higher than the land, I think. Yeah. I don't like, yeah, we're below sea level here and we got making Burmese pythons and stuff everywhere. ? Yeah. Black. Black Panther. There's, I think Dave's video or the panther. They do have, they got mountain lions and everything down there. Did y'all, I don't care about the critters.

If I saw a python, that'd be cool. I always wanna go python. I went down there, but it's not top of my list. It's not my favorite terrain. Just nothing about it. Sounds good. Other than killing an osceola would be the [00:45:00] only draw. Yeah. And yeah, it'll what's an o oceola anyway? Just a, just a, basically an eastern with black wingtip and maybe a little bit longer spurs.

It's across between basically a buzzer. They're basically they're just. Yeah, they're just Florida Easterns. That was a good one. Jerry. I've I've hunted Miriam's, I've hunted Osceolas, hunted Rios, and I've hunted Easterns. And there you are, correct. There is something about an Eastern wild Turkey, just the gobble the hunt experience.

It's just a, it's a preferable hunt to me. Harder, most of time. I wish they would let us keep 'em as pets. I would love, I've got a, I've got a Nagan and a Royal Palm Turkey, and I wish I could have a pet Eastern gobbler. I guess I, I could say it was a standard bronze that I got at the flea market, if they really wanted to get me, they could, do, you could [00:46:00] probably test it to see if it was Eastern.

But they don't let you keep any wild animals in Tennessee as pests, deer, Turkey, anything. . So it's not legal to have an eastern wild Turkey as a pet, but if I could, I would have one. I wonder if a, I wonder a hi a Turkey that's born in the wild, like a wild eastern. If it were to be collect, saved or rescued or whatever I wonder if they could be domesticated.

A wild. You could domestic I, younger enough, the domestic Turkey came from Mexico, which will probably be a gold Turkey originally that domestic turkeys were wild turkeys from North America. And breeds like heritage breeds. Like I have, I've done some looking up like the royal palm, black and white Turkey, and the narraganset is, Kind of coppery bronze tipped more it looks more like a Rio, except with a more bronze color to it.

Real pretty birds. But they were both bred from the domestic farm, [00:47:00] Turkey crossed with Eastern, like a, like I'm pretty sure a royal palm is 50% Eastern originally, but that was hundreds of years ago whenever they bred it. So they got eastern blood in 'em, but they're not, yeah, they're not pure.

But a lot of heritage Turkey breeds, farm Turkey breeds were domestic turkeys, which originally came from Mexico. Some of 'em went to Europe and then came back here like some breeds came from Europe, but the European turkeys came from Mexico originally. So that's funny how everything got traded around.

But a lot of those breeds do have Eastern in them. We listen, we can, I can talk about royal palms all day. I freaking love them. Yeah, I know you got one on your wall. I got one mounted on the wall. , Catman I got full sand now. You better hide him. Catman 1500 up the hunt over. I'll even give you a place to crash.

A 1500 [00:48:00] bucks. I'll provide bush light in a shell and I'll go throw 'em out in the back seat or thick it. You go call 'em up. That's cheaper than the last one. I. His beard's only about a inch long. I dunno if he's a full grown gobbler, but I don't know. He must be eating his beard off cuz it won't grow.

God, and you lost her the other day, didn't you? Yeah, I had two nagan. One of 'em got ate by the triple beard. Got eaten by coyotes. That's what you think your boy came running up with a shotgun. I got him at taxi. I don't think you, I don't think you chewed the breast off of the bone with your teeth like that.

Like I found him . I found him eating like part of the legs and all the breast meat eaten off in the front yard. I, only time I've ever seen a Turkey eaten like that was wild Turkey on the neighboring property about seven years ago. Me and my buddy who used to manage that property next door he had been watching his boss bird all, some all spring and other Gober came in.

He would fight em off. He was the man, he [00:49:00] always had the hens and so he finally wanted to kill that bird. We'd go sit in his blind one morning and he's roed it on the other side of the field from us, and there's a rise in the field. So when he flies down, we can't see him, but we can see on the fence row across the field, a big blonde coyotes sitting there just watching the horizon.

And after a while goes by, a couple hands go by us and they're both missing chunks of feathers, like a coyote or something had tried to catch 'em and the hands, go off and go to their nest. And then we never see the gobbler. So we get up, the coyote disappears, we get up and walk over there, and there's a trail of feathers going in the fence row.

and we found this carcass same way. I just found my bird the other day. Whole breast was eaten out. They didn't eat the head, they didn't eat, hardly touch the legs. They just ate the breast off and, left a trail of feathers and that was right out there Den actually found their den right in that fence road and it was during pup season.

So she's probably feeding her pups. But it, that's the only other time I've seen her Turkey, a eating. [00:50:00] How much how much are those tame turkeys teaching you about calling turkeys in the spring? Have you learned anything from them, things since you've had 'em? Not a whole lot. They they like fighting.

The two, the one that got killed before he got killed, they would fight him and his buddy would fight sometimes and, and they. The sound, when you hear, when they start talking smack to each other, those fighting pers, they got certain sounds they make where, they're mad and they, the posture, I haven't really learned anything.

I didn't already know not off the top of my head, but, when they posture, when they caught their head up like that , if they're, that's like an aggressive. So I've seen him do all that. I don't have any hands. I did have a hen last year and she came up missing. I just bought a couple traps yesterday.

I'm gonna try my hand, a coyote trap. And I did put a hurting on a coons though. I have, I've got corn out for the past two weeks and not a one picture of a coon yet. Last year I was hard on them, , [00:51:00] and I was love last. There you go. I would love to have turkeys around my house, but I couldn't deal lemme rephrase that.

My wife couldn't deal with all of the Turkey crap all over the deck and probably all over the porch and wherever else just get one or two. Then she might like them. You never know. They're, turkeys are interesting. They got funny personalities like a domestic Turkey that was raised around. They like, I guess they see you as another Turkey.

Just earlier today I poked my head out the door. My Turkey was standing out in the yard with the chickens, mining his business. I opened the door and poked my head out and he looked at me and popped into strut like they and if I were to walk out there, he would come up to me in str circles around me the whole time.

They're cool to have her in. I would all the time be on the yard with a mouth call. Messing with Joe, be sitting out there, Indian style, petting him on the head. . . [00:52:00] Yeah. They're funny. They're funny criers. I'd be like, Dr. Doolittle, eventually I'll be talking to him. . Guys, that was that's awesome man.

I ka man. I'm sure I'm sure you're gonna be getting after this spring, do you have any any videos or anything like that from last year that you're gonna be putting out anytime? . Yes. I'll have a couple. I have one. Adrian killed a bird. I killed a bird. I missed a bird. There's, I've got one trip that I probably will post, but I really don't want to some good footage.

Good. Got into some birds, but I did end up missing one at the end of the trip, so I, it's, that one's gonna hurt. But I do have some good hunts coming up. There's a couple, there's gonna be a couple birds die here and some videos before season. I'll probably post them here this month in the next, I don't know, a couple weeks.

I'll give it a little time. I'm gonna wait a little bit until we're a little bit closer, but yeah, I'll be posting some videos. [00:53:00] Sweet man. That's at that's at catcher and least Turkey hunting. That's all the fun. You just ain't gotta tur to us. Turkeys like fast. It's just like fast fishing. It's lame,

All right, dude. Thanks for being the first ever guest on the Limb Hanger Podcast. I appreciate you having me, Parker. Hey, thanks for listening to the Limb Hanger Turkey Hunting podcast. Hope you tune in next week for another great conversation about our favorite bird in the woods as the Wild Turkey.

We'll talk to you guys next week.