3-things-you-should-do-now-for-spring-turkey-hunting | Muddy Outdoors

MUDDY BALE BLIND | 3 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO RIGHT NOW FOR SPRING TURKEY HUNTING

Spring Turkey Hunting | Food Plots, Scouting, and Bale Blind Placement for Turkey Hunting

Its early morning, you’re in a bale blind, overlooking a grown up field. The sun is on the way up,  and you have just received enough light to make out the silhouette of the tom on his roost. You have lucked into the perfect spot. Your hearts pumping, the tom is hammering, and you couldn’t be surer that this will happen, you think everything is in place for a successful, perfect turkey hunt. However, once the sun peaks its head over the trees the tom flies down in a different direction, hits the ground, and bolts to the next county…the hunt is over, and you are left dumbfounded with several questions. Was it my calling? My set up? Was it this field?  While it’s unsure why or what ruined the hunt, one thing is for sure, you did not do your homework! The main reason that often lays behind a failed turkey hunt, is often what’s behind a failed deer hunt…lack of preparation. This groundwork starts now. Do not make the mistake of being overdue on these 3 critical things you should be doing right now for spring turkey hunting.

When it comes to spring turkey hunting everything and everyone has two thing that stands out, from the hunters, websites, and videos, to the TV shows, web shows, and blogs. They focus on giving you advice, tips, and tactics on how to call and how to use decoys. While calling and decoying are vital to the success of a turkey hunt, they should not absorb the majority of the attention. When they do, hunters themselves begin to forget the other key aspects. Once a turkey hunter learns the turkey talk, and knows how to set up turkey decoys, he will realize there are several things not mentioned in “turkey hunting advice or tips”  that should be mentioned and considered before turkey season starts.

Planting Food Plots

One thing that is often forgot about when it comes to turkey hunting, is food plots. Turkey hunters continuously come into this problem, and it goes ignored year after year. What’s the most commonly encountered setting for turkey hunting? Take a guess! You probably would have said one of the two, open timber or a barren Ag field, and you would be right. While those all can produce turkeys, and could lead to successful hunts, you might want to try your hand at actually creating a turkey hunting food plot. The correct food plot will draw turkeys, especially more often than the open timber or a desolate Ag field.

3 Things You Should Do Now for Spring Turkey Hunting | Muddy OutdoorsClover and alfalfa food plots are excellent spring food plots to kill turkeys in. Yes this basically includes the everyday hayfield with red clover species and alfalfa. But for the more determined, a specific food plot, planted in white clover or alfalfa, can create the optimum feeding area and strut zone for the spring.

With turkey seasons already opening up in southern states, plant or over seed your existing food plots as early as you can. Given a good rain, ample warm weather, and sunshine, your clover and alfalfa plots should be established enough to draw in birds (depending on the exact opening date of your season).

Scouting Spring Turkeys

Scouting turkeys before the season opens is also an underestimated turkey hunting tactic. The assumption that “turkeys will always be in that field” can cause over-confidence, and a real shock when the hunter realizes there isn’t a tom within earshot on opening morning. Scouting doesn’t take a lot of time and it can give you a lot of useful information to get on a bird fast. There are three types of scouting you should consider starting now before it’s too late.

  • Glassing- Once birds transition from winter flocks they will switch from feeding on the last acorns in the timber, to spring break up, and concentrating on feeding in green fields. You are able to glass these new food sources with certainty of some sort of regular pattern. Keep your head low, don’t spoke the birds, and glass food plots, fields, feeding areas, and strut zones.
  • Locating- While roosting the bird the night before is one of the most successful proven strategies when turkey hunting, locating them with the same locater calls can give you a good idea of where they will be different parts of the day. The highest point of the property gives you the clearest line of sound to the bird. Let out a crow or owl call and listen for the response.
  • Trail Cameras- Once the flock separates and their food sources change to green fields a hunter should become dependent on trail cameras. Just as in deer (if not more), patterns can be honed in on and taken advantage of. Placing cameras over logging roads, field openings, and over food plots can have you dialed in on birds without spending the time on actually going out and locating them. Spring and summer require a lot from a camera, find out what the requirements are for the best cameras for spring/summer here. Placing out a quality camera on one of these locations with the right mode and settings can/will reveal a lot of information before opening morning.

Now marks the perfect time to begin to scout. Winter flocks are breaking up, acorns have been devoured from the timber, and spring green up is pushing the birds into food plots and fields. The final 2-3 weeks before the turkey season opens is when you need to scout the hardest, but be careful to not spook any of the birds.

Placing and Selecting the Right Ground Blind – Have you considered a Bale Blind?

Once you have patterned the birds to a general idea of where they roost and what field they will be going to in the morning, you will be ready to make your move. Turkeys are pretty oblivious when it comes to ground blinds, meaning you can more often than not get away with placing a ground blind out the same morning you will hunt. However, if you know exactly where the birds will be, you should ideally put a blind out in the final weeks before the season. If the hunting blind sticks out like a sore thumb you can bet they might avoid that section of the field or food plot. If you have still not put out your blind, or have not purchased one yet, then there are several things to consider. If you are looking to purchase a ground blind for turkey hunting this year, understand that the best turkey hunting blind will need to have these requirements.

  • Blends In- A good hunting blind will be able to blend into the setting it is placed. Besides the obvious camo pattern, blinds have recently shift in the thought and ideal. The normal square ground blinds are now joined by popularity growing Bale Blinds. The bale blinds that are now available, create a perfect solution for certain turkey hunting situations. Food plots, pastures, and hay fields are now more easily hunted. Before bale blinds, sticking a regular camo square ground blind in the open filed type scenario would be blatantly obvious to any bird. The bale blinds look inconspicuous in this setting, giving the idea that it’s just another round bale
    3 Things You Should Do Now for Spring Turkey Hunting | Muddy Outdoors
  • Is Spacious- When it comes to turkey hunting out of a blind, space is everything! Whether you are bow hunting turkeys out of the blind, filming your hunt, or taking youth out on opening morning, the more space you have the more successful your hunt will be. Let’s think about everything that might go into the blind. Chairs, bow or gun, camera equipment, backpack, decoys ( if you take one out of your set during the hunt), another person, and potentially a lot more gear depending on what you need to be comfortable in a blind. A blind with ample room, a width around 64+ inches, is ideal.
  • Has Multiple Windows- This one’s obvious, the more windows, the more shooting angle and opportunities you get. A ground blind with multiple windows, different types/sections of windows, and minimal blind spots is ideal. These windows need to be dead silent to take down and back up, you never know what a hunt with throw at you.
  • Has a Flat Black Interior- Staying hidden inside the blind is a must for turkey hunting. A flat black interior on a bind creates the ability to be invisible inside it. When turkey hunting, keep only the front window facing the decoys open, closing up the surrounding windows will restrict the light that’s coming into the blind, and get rid of any silhouettes. When hunting out of a blind, do not wear your normal camo pattern. Wear a black top, black hat, and apply face paint to darken your face, this will virtually eliminate any chance the birds see movement in the blind.
  • Be Portable- Many turkey hunters simply do not like turkey hunting out of blinds. When asked, majority of hunters simply do not like the idea of not being able to move around on a bird. Having a blind that can be portable can be huge advantage on a turkey hunt. A blind that can be packed up, and moved easily, is ideal.
Muddy Portable Bail Blind 2015 ATA Show
(Video)- The new Muddy Portable Bale Blind revealed at the 2015 ATA Show. This blind gives the features and look of the old Muddy Bale Blind, but is now portable.

Again, the main reason that lays behind a failed turkey hunt, is often what’s behind a failed deer hunt…lack of preparation. This year’s preparation starts now, do not make the mistake of being overdue on these 3 critical things you should be doing right now for spring turkey hunting.  Do your homework, put in the work, and know the tools you need for the hunt.

Spring Trail Camera Tips and Tactics | Muddy Outdoors

Get The Most From Your Trail Cameras This Spring

Trail Camera Tips | Trail Camera Selection, Settings, Placement, and Considerations for Spring

March is a hard and puzzling month, old man winter is confused, plants are confused, deer and turkey are confused, and you are completely lost. Plants, wildlife, and you, yourself do not even know whether or not to pull the trigger on spring activity or still lie dormant. Warm, sunny, 70 degree days one week, bitterly cold, snow storms the next is common, leaving you literally never knowing what March will throw at you. Most hunters, including yourself, are probably just breaking out of winter hibernation, and let’s face it, you were not productive were you? The most you might have achieved is getting your tree stands, ground blinds, or box blinds out of the elements over the winter, some shed hunting, but other than that you were unquestionably a dormant bear on that couch! You’re not the only one in the situation, besides other hunters both deer and turkey are in a tough transition this time of the year. During this time, it is important to act first, make the first strike on the season by getting your trail cameras out this spring and start the year’s observations. Follow these spring trail camera tactics to make the most of your cameras, your time, and ultimately your hard earned money.

Blowing the dust off, or opening the new box?

Game/trail cameras are without a doubt, one of the best management tools that a land manager can utilize. When it comes to documenting how your management implementations are progressing, a trail camera will provide information that is, in some cases, impossible to obtain otherwise. Before we dive into where, when, and how to set up your trail cameras this spring, you need to do an inventory check.

What cameras do you have? Are they still working? Are they the right camera for the situations that you will need to observe in the spring/summer?

Most likely your cameras are going downhill after a long season in the field, maybe they are still old school and lack the new features that are the standard in the industry. They might even be the reason behind the lack of bucks on your property, literally being too loud or too bright of a flash, or maybe you have mature bucks on the property, but the cameras just are not capturing all the movement! There is a lot at stake and a lot to consider. So the question is no longer if you should purchase a trail camera, but what type of camera should you purchase? There are numerous companies that make various models of cameras. Some cameras focus on trigger speeds, some feature time-lapse options, and other models feature HD video mode, or burst mode imaging. The model you choose depends primarily on what you want to know. Considering all cameras have improved their battery life and memory recently, let’s discuss their photo-capturing abilities to ensure you get the most from your unit.

Spring Trail Camera Tips and Tactics | Muddy OutdoorsFor example, if you are monitoring an area to document wildlife activity during food plot maturation, a camera with a time-lapse ability will be the best option. The time-lapse option will take photos at a pre-determined interval, therefore an animal does not need to be within a certain range to set the unit off. They will be captured on film regardless of how close or far away they are. This is ideal for open agricultural fields or food plots where wildlife congregates, especially if nailing down entrance routes into the field is tough to do. On the other hand, if you are capturing images to determine a buck: doe ratio, still images work best. Most trail camera surveys require baited sites, so any camera that takes still images will be preferred, even if it has a slower trigger speed. If a camera has a not-so-great trigger speed, it should be placed over a baited site where the animal will be stationary for some amount of time. Other cameras that have lightning-fast trigger speeds can be situated on trails, funnels, and travel corridors. By using your camera in this fashion, you are revealing useful management information but also capturing awesome photos.

Trail cameras that feature video, especially with audio, are great units that can be placed in various areas that not only provide insight on the wildlife that is using a particular area, but also make neat videos. A still image of a whitetail buck working a scrape is great, but a video where you can see and hear him in action is even better. The same goes for orienting a camera in a strut zone for turkeys. Once again, a video of a gobbling tom trumps a still photo. These camera sets are sometimes located at the base of a tree, looking up at the licking branch over a scrape. This setup provides a unique angle and adds a twist to an already great video clip. This can easily be done with the use of a tree mount in order to orient the camera in an upward angle at the base of a tree.

Today’s new camera units are jam-packed with technology and can tell you just about anything you would want to know about monitoring activity on your land. But before you jump the gun into a new camera, or think you can just settle with your old one, let’s examine the situations, and the exact requirements that you will need in a trail camera for this spring.

What is spring?

The answer is easy, spring is several things, beautiful, warm, sunny, life giving…but less harsh than winter, is unfortunately not one of them. While winter zaps battery life, it also does not require too much of a camera, there is really not a lot going on especially in heavy snowfall, and just plain old cold cannot completely kill a camera. Spring on the other hand is an explosion of life. In order to capture anything and everything that can and will be of use to you, a camera that can not only capture it is required, but one that can also survive.

Spring is wet, humid, and full of critters. Water damage (rain and humidity), critter damage (ants), and even other human’s stealing the cameras are all of concern before we even dive into specific situations of trail camera use and placement. So keep this harsh environment in mind when thinking about your current trail cameras, or new cameras on the market.

Spring food plot monitoring

While all this crazy weather is going on, it is literally the perfect time and opportune moment to start your food plots for the spring. You’re crazy to think we are suggesting to plant beans or corn during this time of year (this early), but a more effective, potentially more important food source for whitetails this time of year is early clover plots. Clover plots excel this time of year, being one of the first green sprouts that are rich in protein and nutrients a pregnant doe or a budding buck will gladly devour.

Spring Trail Camera Tips and Tactics | Muddy Outdoors

Having this extremely useful plot, especially in areas where you could not reach the acreage to plant beans or corn, will allow you to pull, hold, and observe mature bucks over the spring and summer. Whether its frost seeding a plot, installing a poor man plot, or disking or tilling up a small plot, putting in clover now can be rewarding all year long. In this instance, a camera on video mode, time-lapse mode, or simple image burst will work. Given the normally small acreage of the plots time-lapse isn’t necessarily needed, but will still be advantageous. Put the trail cameras up in early spring to observe fawns and bachelor groups in spring and summer, and be sure to keep them up. The small clover plot is an ideal area to hang a set for a staging area into larger food plots in the early season.

Deer feeders

Nutritional needs fire back up after the long winter, that much needed protein and nutrients available in clover and other food plots during the spring, can be easily supplemented or added to with a deer feeder. Consequently feeding stations make perfect opportunities to observe feeder use. In order to minimize stress on a feed site, and to keep deer and turkeys coming back, a camera should be small, quiet, and have an invisible flash. Either video, or image burst works well, but set the camera on a 5 minute or longer delay in order to avoid the thousands of pictures, but still identify each visit.

Spring Trail Camera Tips and Tactics | Muddy Outdoors

Feeders unfortunately attract unwanted attention from neighbors and trespassers, so be sure any trail camera placed over a feeder is either locked on the tree, or small and compact enough to hide well.

Strut zones

If food plots aren’t on you forte, you may want to reconsider. Pacing trail cameras on or over small clover plots will most likely reveal a strut zone, or area where toms and hens will gather during spring. Clover plots are coveted by turkeys and turkey hunters during the spring. The hens will feed there and bring in the toms, which will give you an ideal spot to set up the decoy and ground blind. Besides clover plots, open fields, Ag fields, pastures, or open wood lots make perfect strut zones.

Spring Trail Camera Tips and Tactics | Muddy Outdoors

Trail camera selection and more importantly trail camera settings will be slightly more dependent on the situation you are heading off to be your opening weekend spot. If you are in heavy timber image-bursts or video mode with minimal delay is ideal to place on funnels or routes turkeys will take going into or out of food sources, or where they might end up scratching throughout the day. For the fields and food plots place the trail camera settings on time-lapse. This will end up giving you exactly where and when the toms hang out in the field.

Mineral sites

When spring annuals and food plots sprout up, minerals and slat attractants are put down. Have you ever wondered why deer and salt are so attractive to deer during spring in particular? Sure they use the traces and nutrients, but salt is what they are after. High water content in the rapidly growing plants of March, April, and May equates to a lot of water metabolized by deer, causing a need and crave for sodium.

Spring Trail Camera Tips and Tactics | Muddy Outdoors

Luckily this need creates a very attractive site, and opportune moment for a photo session. Either a video or photo burst works well with mineral sites. One thing that goes for both mineral sites and feeders is distance of the camera….to close you don’t get the entire picture and you have the potential to disturb the deer, too far and you cannot see the detail you would like. Finding a camera with a great invisible flash range, plus high MP, quality images and HD videos should be a no brainer for purchase in these scenarios.

Trails and funnels

Placing trail cameras over trails and funnels really seem to be underestimated, and for good reason. Placing cameras over mineral sites, clover plots, fields, and strut zones are so much more effective. But placing trail cameras over trails, runs, and funnels can and often will be more effective at telling you information you will rely upon. If you have deer hunted long enough, even turkey hunted long enough, you know particular things about their movements. Mature bucks, or turkeys might be camera shy when it comes to a mineral site, or field edge. But hanging a camera, the right type of camera is essential, high looking over a trail will often catch mature buck or tom movement that will otherwise go unnoticed.

Both deer and turkeys will often take the excursion approach when it comes to their daily movements. Sure, they are on patterns when it comes to spring and even more so for summer, but that does not mean they won’t take the safest route. This is why the right type of camera is important. A small, quiet, inconspicuous, and invisible flash camera is perfect for trails. A mineral site, feeder, or clover plot might be anticipated for some sort of stress (camera flash, sound, physical sight of the camera itself), the deer get used to it and the costs (stress) do not outweigh the benefits (food and nutrients). A trail can easily be wrote off if stress is involved. Keep your trails and funnels stress free all year in order to preserve them active.

So which camera is right for you?

Your next step is to blow the dust off your old trail camera, is it even working? Is it worth it to buy the batteries needed the rest of the year, is it time to take it out back and (metaphorically) put it out of its misery?

Next, decide which scenarios you see yourself needing a camera for. Are you the avid turkey hunter, fanatical deer hunter, or the passionate land owner/manager? Are you all three, like every hunter seems to be? In that case strongly look into purchasing a camera with the following requirements.

  • Small/Compact size
  • Able to be cable locked and secured
  • High image quality ( Trail cameras in this century should be at or above 10MP)
  • Photo-Image burst capability (day and night)
  • Time-lapse capability
  • Video capability (Audio included)
  • Invisible flash (black)
  • Simple operation and backlit screen (to see in low light)
  • Trigger delay options
  • Image data: time, date, temp, camera ID
  • Waterproof housing
  • Product warranty
  • Battery type: AAs (are easiest and have great rechargeable option)
  • Detection and flash range > 10-15 yards (30’-45’ at least)
  • Wide Detection Angle
  • Several mounting options: tripod, screw in, and straps
Muddy ProCamTrail Cameras at the 2016 ATA Show
(video)- Published on Jan 16, 2016, Muddy ProCam Trail Cameras at the 2016 ATA Show, Muddy’s new line of cameras for 2016, including The Pro-Cam 10 and The Pro-Cam 12.

Spring Trail Camera Tips and Tactics | Muddy OutdoorsSpring has arrived, and with it an opportunity to gather some critical information with your trail cameras. Don’t miss this opportunity due to an old camera, or an inefficient new one. Make the right choice and follow these trail camera tips on settings, placement, and considerations for this spring.