Daryl Hodge of Wrecking Crew Guide Service in Lancaster is most well-known for waterfowl hunting. He and his son are both champion callers, and their goose hunting trips are legendary. That doesn’t keep him from hunting other critters, and Hodge said he is always scouting, even while hunting.
Hodge has killed his share of trophy deer, including a 140-class buck that was 6 1/2-years old this season, but what he’s really doing while sitting in the deer stand is scouting, often for turkeys.
“There’s no doubt turkeys are going to change their behavior between now and the spring, and seeing turkeys while deer hunting isn’t the best indication of where they will be once turkey season starts. I don’t really focus so much on whether I’m seeing turkeys or not – I’m focusing more on the type of trees and terrain I encounter while deer hunting,” Hodge said.
The best turkey hunting areas, Hodge has found, contain a mixture of hardwoods, pines, and creek bottom. “In a swamp full of hardwoods, I’ve seen big groups of turkeys during deer season, and fewer when it’s a mixture of all three. But in the spring, it’s the opposite,” he said.
“Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve killed my share of gobblers around nothing but hardwoods, but I’ve had far more luck where they meet creek bottom and pines are mixed in. I think the turkeys like to roost in pines better, but for whatever reason, those are the areas I find them in the spring,” said Hodge (803-320-3477).
“It’s easy to sit in a tree stand and think there aren’t any turkeys in this area just because you don’t see them during deer season, but as long as you’ve got those three things – creek bottom, pines, and hardwoods all together, that’s where I’m hunting in the spring,” he said.
Once Hodge has identified those areas, he observes everything in sight of his deer stand and makes mental notes of where turkeys might strut, roost, feed, and travel.