Scouting Secrets with Alex Rutledge

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It does not take long to realize that Alex Rutledge, host of the popular Bloodline TV show on the Pursuit Channel, is a man that is passionate about turkey hunting in his Creator’s backyard.  The champion caller, Mossy Oak pro-staffer, and longtime outdoor personality from Birch Tree, Missouri has been hunting the wild turkey for nearly forty years, calling up his first turkey when he was only nine years old.  For Rutledge, the outdoors lifestyle-especially turkey hunting-is truly a part of his bloodline, as he grew up on a small farm in the Missouri Ozarks where his family lived off the land.

Surrounded by some of the world’s best turkey hunting, Rutledge learned at an early age not only how to call turkeys with proficiency, but also how to scout for turkeys before and during the course of the season.  “I truly believe that the key with any type of hunting is being where the animal you are pursuing is at or wants to be,” says Rutledge.  “It does not matter how good of a hunter you are if there aren’t any critters in the area you hunt.  I put an emphasis on scouting for this reason.  When you are in the business of filming successful hunts, you have to know that you are breaking daylight with turkeys.”

Rutledge says if he is given permission to hunt a new property before the season, he starts his preparation by talking with the landowner or farmer.  “Landowners or farmers are the best source of information, because they have likely seen turkeys while on the property.  I want to pick their brain on where the turkeys frequent, as well as the geographic features of the property.  Where is the food and water?  Where does the landowner see turkeys loafing or strutting mid-morning?  You have to rely on that crucial first-hand knowledge as a viable starting point for your scouting.”

Topographical and aerial maps (see “Mapping It Out”) are also integral parts of Rutledge’s strategy, as he will reference the maps when talking with the landowner.  “I make sure I have a good set of maps before I begin my scouting missions.  I always try to match up the info I gather from the landowner with the maps I have, and will get him to show me specifically where he has seen turkeys on the maps.  This way, I can begin to formulate a strategy on how I will attack each specific area should I find gobbling turkeys in those areas when the season rolls around.”

“Right before the season starts, I will listen for gobbling turkeys on the property, but am careful not to bump the birds while doing so,” explains Rutledge.  “The worst thing that you can do is pressure the birds before you’ve even had a chance to hunt them.  So I try to stick to the perimeter of the property and will cross-reference where the turkeys are with the maps I have.”

So when Rutledge gets a call during the course of the season to hunt a new, unfamiliar tract of land, how does he adjust his approach?  “Obviously, hearing a gobbling turkey is the easiest way to scout a new tract of land on the fly,” laughs Rutledge.  “You have cut much of the prep work out of the equation in that instance.  I still want to try to have quality maps of the property, as they’ll tip me off to likely roosting areas and where the birds are heading after fly down.  I have found on cool, clear mornings that turkeys want to get on sunny knolls to stay warm, strut, and feed, so I try to identify these areas beforehand. ”

“When you see people on the Pursuit Channel having success, whether they are hunting deer, elk, or turkeys, you had better believe that they put in their time scouting that property,” said Rutledge. “There is no question that the more you scout the animal you are hunting, the more successful you will be.”

For more information on Bloodline TV with Alex Rutledge, please visit www.bloodlineoutdoors.com for airtimes, gear, and more!
Author:
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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