Huntable populations of turkeys can be found in most states. Yet, some hunters continue to look for them in all the wrong places. Suitable habitat is easily identified if one just learns a little about the birds.
Turkey habitat is usually a combination of good edge habitat with big oaks. It usually has a mix of farmland, fields, and upland forest. These areas provide brood habitat with plenty of insects for young birds to eat. Adult birds are mobile and can find their own feed, but the poults need their food close at hand.
In the spring, adult birds feed on invertebrates and greens. They will also eat soft fruits and mushrooms. During cold weather, they turn to acorns, beechnuts, wild grapes, corn, soybeans and small grains. The acorns are the preferred food of the adult birds.
Grain crops such as soybeans, cowpeas, oats, buckwheat, sorghum, corn and millet will be eaten by turkeys. However, deer often get to these crops before the turkeys. It seems that deer tend to leave the oats alone until the turkeys can get to them. Therefore, oats become the favorite grain food of turkeys in the early fall.
As a bird of the upland forest, turkeys are dependant upon trees, both conifers and hardwoods and a good supply of water. They use the clearings for loafing and dusting areas in addition to the food supply. They also use them for nesting and brood range.
Studies have found that the abundance of insects is much higher in old clearings than in the adjoining brush or timberland.
Successful hatchings result in good gobbler results. They reach their peak as a gobbler at age two.
Young male birds leave the adult hen and young hens in winter. The male birds band together with other males of their same age.
Each year‑class tends to chase off younger birds until the number of older birds reaches a low level. The hens on the other side form more stable flocks. As their flocks get large, they break up into smaller flocks.
Excellent habitat and good weather will provide an abundance of turkeys for the hunter to pursue in the spring.
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