Contributors to this thread:
Value of Dusting Areas
We have two food plots that are connected by a lane. The northeast one as the lane on the west side and the south west one as the lane on the north side. The lane enters the SW plot in the NE corner and turns 90 degrees. There is about 20 yards of lane between the two plots with the west side of the NE plot lining up with the east side of the SW plot. For the past 3 spring turkey seasons I have put a blind on the north side of the SW plot where I can cover the lane as it enters the plot and the north side of the plot and I have shot a mature tom there each year with my bow. On the north side of the NE plot there is a dusting area that I can not see from my blind but I hear hens there every year. I call to them and they answer but normally do not come to where I can see them. I set decoys on the lane so that they can be seen from the dusting area. One of the toms I shot did come in silently from that direction. Where I set my decoys they can be seen by almost anywhere on the two plots. Yesterday I looked at the area and the dusting area was being heavily used and there were a lot on dropping on the N end of the NE plots. There were also some droppings on the SW plot. Do you think I should move my blind to cover the dusting area or set it up in my previous spot?
If you've been killing toms where you are now every year stick to that plan, moving your blind just might disrupt the birds pattern and comfort zone and ruin your chances. Now if they start getting wise to your spot, then move.
Keep your blind where it is at. I will bring my FB and set it near the dusting area. We can exchange stories after the hunt.
Good luck! Nice dilemma to have!
Always nice to have a new view...
Thank you for the responses. I am torn. There is another lane from the east that intersects the lane between the plots. The traditional location definitely covers the travel routes the best. The location by the dusting area would allow me to cover the dusting area and to see more of the area whereas with the other location I can only see the one plot and where the lane enters it. There is always the lure of seeing what I am missing. There is presently not a blind in either location. I set blinds shortly before season so there would be an equal amount of time for the turkeys to get use to the blind. Anyone else?
In the big picture of turkey hunting, dusting areas aren't that important for an exact kill spot. It tells you they are there, are comfortable in that area and probably spend some time in that area. I think you already have the kill spot figured out!
In my experience turkeys don't have to get use to blinds at all.
The difference between a good hunter and an average hunter is the failure to adapt. An average hunter would stay in one spot. Move your blind if not happy you can always move it back.
Thanks again for the responses. No one has said that an active dusting area is a great spot for a blind and to hunt that spot. I will put a camera on it to see how much it is being used on a daily bases. I can post the results if anyone is interested.
Ben, I will set-up up to 5 blinds in different places if I am not seeing enough toms and I have an open tag. I agree that it pays to move around.
How about a timelapse camera mounted high overlooking the entire plot for a week prior to your hunt? That will show you everything you need to know.
I put up a camera about a week ago at a hole in the stonewall fence where I usually see turkeys crossing and got these pics.
There are usually dusting bowels all around this area.
I've never seen a dusty bowel?!? Any pics?!?
Their brains are the size of a peanut... Don't over think it. Put your decoys out where they can be seen and they will come. It sounds like you are killing birds every year so there is no need to fix what isn't broke.
Personally, I'd leave the blind at home and go hunt them off the roost. Killing them off the ground with a bow and no blind is a rush.
I have come to rely on dust bowls to set up on. Can't use decoys because all my tags are late season IL & WI public. Can't even use a blind unless brushed in very well. So I can't call a Tom in. But dust bowls have been my ticket. Especially when hunting a new public property. However, there should be a concentration of them like 5 or 6, and best at a field corner or dip closest to a known roosting grove of trees.
Zim1, It is good to hear that they work for someone. There are a couple in the area I mentioned. I have not paid that much attention to dusting areas until I saw this area being hit over 3 years. I never checked to see how regularly they are being hit before this. It is surprising to me that the turkeys will turn an active ant hill into a dusting bowel. The ants must not bother them. The main dusting area in the area is a dirt pile from clearing the area that the ground hogs have built burrows in and keep the area clear of vegetation.
tobinsghost, I do not have any pictures. Most that I have seen are 16-24"s in diameter. If you look closely you can see a few marks from feathers but mostly they consist of loose, powdery dirt that has been turned to dust. Sometimes there will be a feather or some down in them but most of the time not. Not much for tracks either but there are usually dropping in the area. The turkeys seem to take turns so they are there long enough to make it likely to find dropping. I hope this helps you.
Mostly done on the edge of fields, on logging roads or as Twanger mentions where ever there is loose dirt like old ground hog holes. I believe in doing so this is the turkey's version of a shower and the purpose is two fold. One; I think the loose dirt cools them off and two; it also helps with the biting insects. Never got to ask one because every time I approach them to start the conversation they run off. I'm left there with only dust, feathers and tracks!!
BTW - In my experience the best time to hunt these is mid-day 10 AM - 2 PM. For a few reasons. One of which is I think it gives them time to dry out in the sun.
Birds love to dust. My chickens will do the same thing, and they do it for extended periods of time. Best course of action is to put a trail cam on it and see how much they are using it. If it's one of the few places that has all the right conditions for dusting, they will be there, sometime during the day. Now after the hens start nesting, the use will probably drop off. It's the hen turkeys version of your woman going to get a mani-pedi and her hair done....
Anybody ever created "false" dusting areas? Bet it would work, but birds are probably already using that area, anyway.
I haven't really seen much "dusting activity" while turkey hunting here in Colorado or Nebraska. It sounds like they do it but there is so much country where turkeys wander where I hunt that it would be tough waiting in a spot that may be used on a daily basis for dusting.
On the other-hand, I've noticed turkeys around here often have strutting grounds where they frequent on a regular basis. Many of the turkeys I've watch fly down from the roost. Once they gather they may feed for a while then head to daily strutting grounds. Sometimes they may scatter and then return to particular strutting grounds again prior to roosting for the evening. Obviously things change different times of the year. Generally later in the spring the hens may head off by themselves to nest.....and there are generally fewer hens that gather with toms on the strutting grounds. Their daily routine changes from early to late in the season but the turkeys often gather in the same spots to strut.
As mentioned above, it's best to stay flexible and keep an eye on what the turkeys are doing....and react accordingly. I spend a lot of time just watching turkeys and figure out a strategy that works. If something doesn't work try something else!
I use the tiller on my tractor year round in an area the turkeys used for dusting before I owned the property. They do use it.
Put a sign up near the area that says, 'Dusting Area', and they should only come to that location. Just like deer signs along the road, that's where the deer are supposed to cross.
I watched a bunch of hens and jakes come in and dust about 50 yards from my blind in NE yesterday. A couple actually stretched out and went to sleep. After about a half hour the "boss" hen came over and pecked them awake, told them it was time to hit the road. They got up, shook off, and soldiered-on.
Biologists say they dust to help get rid of mites.