Locating Turkeys In March

March Is The Month For Locating Turkeys

Good ol’ March in the Midwest. What is there to say other than it’s probably the crappiest month of the year (at least for us here in the North/Midwest). One day it’s sunny and 65, the next it’s 15 and snowing like crazy. Too late to ice fish, too soon to get the boat out of the garage. Other than sitting on the couch watching college basketball, what is there to do? I’ll tell ya…FIND TURKEYS! If you’re looking for a new turkey hunting property or the perfect spot to pursue your first turkey, March is the best month for locating turkeys.

A strutting March Tom as our food plot begins to grow.
A strutting March Tom as our food plot begins to grow.
Go For A Drive

Locating turkeys in March can be as easy as hopping in your vehicle and going for a drive. As the snow melts and fields begin to green-up, turkeys are in them. The first green-up of the year not only provides food for turkeys (and deer), it’s the perfect place for anxious Toms and Jakes to strut their stuff as mating season approaches. Corn and soybean stubble fields are also turkey magnets in March. Birds are pecking around for the last remaining corn kernels and bean pods and excited males are often strutting. Around my house in Michigan ag country, it’s not uncommon for me to see 20-30+ turkeys in a field on my way to or from work. Most of the fields around my house are privately owned, so once I locate a few with turkey activity it’s time to ask for permission.

Use Country GIS Maps To Locate The Land Owner

Locating the landowner’s house can be just as easy as locating turkeys. Many states and counties now publish land parcel information online, simply Google “XXXXXX County GIS Maps” and you should  find the land parcel maps for your country. Zillow often times can also be used to map property lines and determine which house is the landowners.

https://www.kalcounty.com/planning/gis.htm

County GIS maps are a great tool for locating land owners and property lines.
County GIS maps are a great tool for locating land owners and property lines.

I hope locating the landowner’s house was easy, because asking for permission to hunt is almost never easy. It’s always somewhat awkward, uncomfortable, nerve-racking. It’s like a job interview, you have only a few seconds to make a positive impression on a complete stranger. Though it’s always uncomfortable, here’s a few things I do to help ease my nerves:

Tips For Asking “Can I Hunt Your Land?”
  1. Expect to hear “No” more often than “Yes.” Don’t hype your expectations, but remember if you don’t ask the answer is always “No.”
  2. Find as many potential properties as you can and rank them. Start with your lowest ranked property first and work your way up to your favorite. Your comfort level will increase as you go.
  3. Timing is everything. Right after work or during lunch/dinner is typically not a good time. Weekends between 2PM-4PM is “usually” a good time, followed by weekdays between 7PM-8PM. Make sure it’s still daylight if you go in the evening.
  4. Cut to the chase. I like “Hello, my name is Matt Thielking. I’ve seen a few turkeys on your property while driving to work and wanted to ask if you’d be open to me trying to hunt them.” If the answer is “No,” thank the landowner for their time and head out. If the conversation continues, be honest (and open) as to when you’d like to hunt, how long the season is, etc. The landowner may not be comfortable with an entire season so kindly accept whatever he/she is open to!
  5. Plan on proposing permission for yourself and MAYBE one other person. If you plan on taking your spouse or a buddy, make that clear and have them tag along if possible. Don’t expect to get access for more than 2 people.
  6. If you gain access, do exactly as the landowner says. Park where they say to park, hunt where they say to hunt, etc.
  7. Show your appreciation. Volunteer to help out around the property. Send them a “Thank you” card with a gift card at the end of the season. Offer to share your meat with them if you harvest an animal. Trust me, this goes a long way.
Don’t Forget About Public Land

Seriously, don’t forget about public land. If you can find areas of public land with open fields for birds to strut in, you may have your own slice of public turkey heaven. Public land typically doesn’t see much turkey pressure and often times can be scouted from a vehicle just like private land. If you plan on hunting public land, please make sure you purchase the appropriate hunting license. In Michigan only a few thousand public land turkey tags are given out every year and leftover tags go quickly! As with private land, I recommend finding several public land hunting areas with active turkey locations just in case a few other hunters beat you to a desired location.

Michigan public land with great turkey hunting potential.
Michigan public land with great turkey hunting potential.

March, in my opinion, is truly the best month for locating turkeys. Yes, the weather often sucks. And I know, it’s March Madness. Couching-up is certainly the most appealing activity during this time of the year, but turkey hunters should view this time as “The Month Of Opportunity.”

A warm March morning has this Tom strutting right in front of our blind.
A warm March morning has this Tom strutting right in front of our blind.

Birds are showing their faces and there aren’t many hunters knocking on doors. Get in your truck, do some leg work and hopefully you can lockup a new turkey hot-spot before the nets are cut down in San Antonio.

 

-Matt

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