Secure turkey roosts are absolutely necessary to maintain viable turkey populations. As such, successful turkey management and hunting program will address maintaining or even creating suitable turkey roosting sites. Locating a turkey roost is important to hunters because hunting near a roost can greatly increase their odds of ending up with a turkey in their bag, and on the table. So, what does a turkey roost look like?
First, make sure you get outdoors and into the turkey’s woods before season opens for some pre-season scouting. At this point, it is up to you to keep your eyes open for wild turkey sign. Wild turkey will, for the most part, repeatedly use the same trees for roosting until they are disturbed. First, locate the tallest trees in the area. These are usually the trees that have the largest dbh, or diameter and breast height. In simple terms, the trees with biggest trunks. Look for the obvious signs such as feathers, turkey droppings, and even scratchings. You will realize when you’ve found a roost.
Gobblers will usually sleep in separate trees but still in close proximity to the hens. They will never roost far apart. You can determine where the boys and girls are roosting based on their droppings. Gobbler droppings are shaped like the letter “J” and are roughly 2-inches long. A hen, on the other hand, has droppings that are round and circular in their overall shape.
Wild turkeys like to fly down into fairly open areas in the hardwoods, so look for clear-cuts or open fields with big trees nearby. Pines in high country, cottonwoods, or big oaks of any species make ideal roost sites. Search for trees with large, open limbs adjacent creeks, streams, and rivers and you will increase your odds of finding a roost.
In addition, food and water play an important role in locating roosting trees so these areas can make certain trees more appealing for roost. Locating scratchings and feathers which will help you identify paths that turkeys are taking to their feeding areas or dusting bowls. The leaves will always be kicked back in the opposite direction that they’re going. Once these are identified, a hunter can set up in these areas, but not too close to their roosting area, in an attempt to call or ambush a wary gobbler.
A gobbler’s track is about 4-inches long from the heel to the tip of the middle toe, so keep your eyes peeled for tracks, as well. This will tell you where the birds came from and where they are going. Then, you just have to figure out why. The methods of locating roost in this article consist of more passive ways to find turkey roost. However, there are more active ways to locate turkey roost, as well.