One evening last week I made a short trip out to my lease to check the trail cameras I had set out. I had very few photos and no gobblers were captured on film. I wondered if the property that typically held numerous gobblers was falling short for some reason this year. As I walked back to the truck I noticed more than a few turkey tracks in the freshly plowed dirt. I even stumbled across a few dusting sites. It was obvious that turkeys were using the area. Maybe the turkeys were still there…I just had my camera in a bad location. It’s easy with modern technology for basic tracking and scouting skills to put on the backburner. I wanted to see if the camera had done the work for me, and in this case it had not. However, basic scouting skills took over and reiterated that just because there are no turkeys on film, doesn’t mean there are not any turkeys around. I cannot verify just yet about the hunting productivity of this property but I will soon know for sure.
Every year new game camera models are introduced that are guaranteed to change the way we hunt and manage game. Nothing has revolutionized hunting and game management like the game camera has. However, while technology changes, woodsman-ship skills do not. And while new gadgets are introduced, the hunter who understands how to track, pattern, and hunt his quarry will be consistently more successful than one who relies only on technology and new gadgets.
Don’t get me wrong. I love game cameras and I own several of them. The information they provide is invaluable and I have harvested many turkeys and deer due to their info. The same can be applied for high quality mapping software. Even the best aerial maps cannot reveal some characteristics of the terrain. Bedding areas, roost sites, staging areas…these are all educated guesses from a mapping point of view. Even that barbed wire fence where a gobbling tom was being held up is not revealed on a map. That’s a story for later though. Actual boots on the ground will verify what is suggested on a map. What you learn and apply from year to year will benefit you more in the long run than any one game camera photo sequence ever will.
This year while hunting or scouting, take the time to look around and digest what is happening around you. There are many aspects of turkey hunting to take into consideration when getting set up and not all of them can be revealed by a game camera or a map.