WHAT MAKES GREAT TURKEY HUNTING   2 comments

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Early life is the most hazardous time for young turkeys.  An important sign of turkey population success is whether the young live through the summer.  If conditions are right one year, the number of birds making it to the next spring will be greater. By watching brood conditions in your area it is possible to plan for next year.

Continued flooding hurts the turkey nesting along flood plains.

Any decreased gobbling makes finding those birds more difficult.  Spring turkey hunting is gobbler hunting.  The male birds gobble to attract hens for mating purposes.

As the weeks continue into the latter part of spring, there are fewer female birds to be attracted to the gobblers.  Gradually, the season winds down.  It is this decline in mating activity that is believed to be the cause of fewer birds being taken later in the season.

Wind and rain can also affect turkey harvest in the spring.  Besides being a detriment to hunters taking to the field, wind and rain can sometimes cause the birds to react differently to a call.  Turkeys do continue to practice their mating rituals regardless of weather.

Nesting success is dependent upon weather in late May and early June.  Below‑average temperatures and very wet weather causes poor nesting success.  Good conditions lead to at least two years of excellent hunting.  However, it will be two years before those birds are gobbling.  Jakes (yearling males) do not gobble the first spring after their birth.  They will come to calls but do not gobble.  They often surprise a hunter who is unaware just how close they are to him.

It is important that the hunter learn how to hunt turkeys before taking to the field.  There are those hunters who take birds year after year, and they are the ones who get out in the field and scout the birds before the season begins.

Successful turkey hunters scout areas to find turkey sign.  They look for dusting areas and tracks on back roads.  By driving the back roads, one can see tracks of birds traveling across the road and near creeks.

You can spot birds by use of binoculars.  By looking for movement then using binoculars, one can identify turkeys. He can determine the number of birds, number of gobblers and number of jakes.  That helps to find that specific gobbler with the long beard.

In the early morning and late in the afternoon, birds feed.  Birds move to the edges.  Edges are areas where two types of cover converge.  This can be grasses, pastures, crop fields, brush or woods.  Some other areas to inspect are fence rows, roadsides, weedy ditches, abandoned roads and old railroad rights of way.

Most mating activity among turkeys occurs in April.  Older gobblers establish territories and each then collects a “harem” of two to six hens.  After mating, each hen goes off to begin her nesting.

Nests are usually located in undergrowth that offers some concealment.  Most are near the base of a tree or shrub which provides some overhead cover.

If the first nesting attempt is a failure, many hens will re‑nest.

The hen visits the nest once each day for two weeks to lay a single egg.  During the latter part of this period she will spend several hours sitting on the eggs each day.  What follows is a 28 day incubation process with the hen leaving the nest only once each day.  This is generally early in the afternoon, to obtain food and water and sometimes to take a dust bath.

Only about 35 percent of wild turkey nests hatch successfully.  Predators sometimes kill the hens while they are on the nest.  Agricultural and logging operations kill some of the hens.  Some hens are startled by man’s intrusion and will desert the area.

Once the young hatch, the hen remains with the brood near the nest.  After several days, she will take them to an open area where insects, grass seeds, blackberries and a wide variety of plant material is available for food.  Several hens and poults will join together and will stay together until the next spring.

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2 responses to “WHAT MAKES GREAT TURKEY HUNTING

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  1. Spring Turkey season is a valued tool to harvest Gobblers and protect the flocks from over-population and disease. While in many areas populations change drastically due to over hunting; many areas in Maine are not hunted due to the location in or near large population areas or areas posted by landowners; thus causing the populations of Turkeys to exploded and disease to effect the flocks. Many farms are having problems with large flocks and are finally looking to hunters to harvest large numbers of turkeys to control damage around their property. These areas and areas of regenerated lumber harvest hold good populations to hunt. But, in populated areas, the hunting pressures not only increase but the tactics used by hunters while scouting and during early season change the Turkey’s habits and daily activities. One of the worst things a hunter can do is to over call; the gobblers become accustom to the calling and activities of the hunters; in most cases educated to the calls and the hunters methods. These Turkey’s change their habits and become “quiet” in their daily activities. Reducing the use of your calls and switching calls increase your chances for a memorable and successful hunt. Rely on scouting and your knowledge of the species over the use of calls increases your harvest. Do not forget the fall season for harvesting hens, jakes and Gobblers as well; this is a different type of Turkey hunting from your spring hunts.

  2. Pingback: February 28, 2014: TGIF Link Round-Up | Feather and Fin

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