More Fascinating Facts About Wild Turkeys!

Turkeys of a Feather

Are you aware that young jakes have longer primary feathers in the center of their fan-shaped

Jakes Have Longer Tail Feathers in the Center of the Main Fan; All the Tail Feathers of a Mature Tom are the Same Length.

tails?  

In fact that is a way to tell a mature tom from a young jake. Keep in mind that the only time you will see those longer tail feathers is when a jake struts!

Feather Colors

At a distance, hen feathers look dark brown while a tom’s appear black.

Each of the 5 subspecies of wild turkeys has unique characteristics.  For an in-depth explanation (with photos), refer to these earlier articles:

Head Colors

Perhaps the reason Ben Franklin wanted to name the turkey as the symbol of the US (instead of the bald eagle), is because a male gobbler’s head color is red, white and blue!

In contrast, a hen’s head color is a rather dull blue-gray.

Caruncle Considerations!

Also known as wattles, caruncles are the fleshy growths that hang from the turkey’s head and neck.  According to Wikipedia, “The wattle is often an ornament for courting potential mates. A large wattle is correlated with high testosterone levels, good nutrition ….” *

An adult gobbler’s caruncle will turn bright red when he is sexually excited. In contrast, a hen has a smaller wattle that is pink. An excited jake will have a wattle  that is more pink than red.

FYI for Hunters

In the latter days of the mating season, it may be easier for a hunter to take a tom.  He’s still interested in sex but there are fewer hens available for breeding.  

As more hens start nesting, gobblers may resort to more strident calling for females. Since he’s more stressed (looking for the few hens remaining to breed), he’s more likely to make a mistake — and move into the crosshairs of a hunter’s gun.

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*  Wikipedia, from the page — “Wattle (anatomy)”

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Thanks for stopping by; come again!

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This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 7:21 am  Comments Off on More Fascinating Facts About Wild Turkeys!  
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Do You Know These Facts About Wild Turkeys?

Wild and domesticated turkeys may have a lot in common.  However, just because you nosh on turkey for Easter or Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean you know “jack” about the wild ones!

Note this turkey's beard sticking from his chest!

Sizing Up a Turkey

When choosing a turkey for Thanksgiving, you probably select one between 24 and 28 pounds for a large family gathering.   Domesticated turkeys are raised for lots of meat vs. their body size. 

 Habitat and food availability determine a wild turkey’s weight.  They average  a bit over 20 lbs. in the agricultural areas of the Midwest. In other areas, they average somewhat less than 20 lbs.

How Can I Tell a Wild Turkey’s Age?

The legs of an adult gobbler are about 2″ longer than a domesticated turkey.  Their feet grow to about 4 and 1/2 inches.

A few inches above the feet are bony areas called spurs, with a fingernail-like covering.   Colors of the spurs can range from black to white to translucent.

Soon after birth, the spurs begin to grow. General measurements are:

  • About 1/2 inch by the jake’s (young male’s) first birthday
  • 2 year-old’s have spurs just under an inch
  • and 3 year-olds have spurs just over an inch
  • It is rare for turkeys to have spurs longer than 1.5 inches because of wear

The reason western turkeys do not have spurs as long as their eastern brethren is because of the rough terrain they cover.

 Birds with Beards

Male turkeys have beards – which are modified feathers (not hair).  It is not unusual for a male to have more than one beard!

The beard grows 4 to 5 inches each year.  A jake’s beard starts to show on his chest at about 6 months of age.  

Although turkeys molt and shed feathers, the beard is part of a turkey for life … unless something happens.

Once the beard reaches about 10 inches, it can wear away by dragging, getting caught in fencing, etc.  How much beard wearing  turkeys experience is an individual thing — depending on the thickness of the beard, height of the bird and the terrain he covers.

Did You Know?

One in 20 females has a beard!

Beard and spur lengths are usually more interesting to turkey hunters — rather than their weight!

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‘Turkey Dream 2″ is used by permission of Restyler’s Choice Graphics

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Next Time:  More Fascinating Feather Facts & Caruncle Considerations!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com 

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm  Comments Off on Do You Know These Facts About Wild Turkeys?  
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Some Quick Tips for Spring Turkey Hunting!

If fishing ‘rings your chime’ rather than turkey hunting, you might wonder when I plan to let the gobblers get some rest.  Spring hunting is winding down in some places, while starting up in others.

Turkey hunting is so much fun because you are matching wits and cunning with worthy adversaries!

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Rest assured that fishing tips are coming soon.  BTW, one of the most important skills you can develop while hunting or fishing is …

Patience

Toms are usually bagged by the person who will wait —

  • for the tom to respond & come to the hunter’s call,
  • for the gobbler to move within range
  • for a clear shot 

Know Your Tom’s Habits

Left alone, turkeys have a routine.  If you can expect what the gobblers will do next, you can get into place to take advantage of their regular patterns of behavior.

Biologists tell us that most of the turkey mating takes place during the mid-morning hours.  Turkeys move into agricultural areas (fields) from their hiding places in the woods to:

  • eat,
  • strut,
  • mate, and
  • dust *

During the heat of the day, as the sun beats down on the dark feathers of the turkeys, they abandon the fields for the cool shade of the trees & woods.

By knowing this, you can situate yourself in a likely spot to surprise the hot and tired toms.

Know the Hunting Patterns in the Area 

Turkeys experience the heaviest hunting pressure from daylight until about 9 am.  They tend to breed during the mid-morning hours.

Experienced gobblers know that hunters leave hunting by noon.  Few hunters are going to sit in the heat without lunch.

Older toms are likely to lower their guard in the heat of the day.  Most hunters have left for lunch and the toms are often looking for a hen and a “quickie.”

Surprise the tom by hunting when he doesn’t expect to see you — and you can have turkey for supper!

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* Explanation of “dusting”:  …”turkeys routinely dust during the mid to late morning hours.  Look for an open area with loose soil where the birds have scratched out a “bowl” of loose dirt they can sit in and kick dust over themselves.

There are usually a lot of tracks, droppings and feathers nearby since they do spend quite a bit of time there during the middle of the day just loafing.

Turkeys are really very clean animals and dusting keeps them free of mites, ticks and lice.”   (Quoted from a fine article by Rob Ramsdale.  Click on the highlighted words to see the info.)

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‘Thinkin’ Spring’ is used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm  Comments Off on Some Quick Tips for Spring Turkey Hunting!  
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Getting a Gobbler to Swim to You!

There are times when something awful happens — You are on one side of a creek/stream/river and the tom is on the other side!  Is there any way to salvage the situation?

Yes, there is.  

However, you have less than an even chance. Let’s be clear about that.

If there aren't any hens closer, you may convince a tom to fly or swim across water to you!

The Situation 

When the current is too swift for wading or too deep for walking across, you will have your work cut out trying  to convince a gobbler to fly or swim across. However it can be done.

What to Try

The only way I know to convince a tom to come across a moving body of water, is to convince him that he is missing out on a great party!  He has to believe that there is more excitement on your side of the water than on his!

A tom may have no interest in flying to your party if there is only one hen.  So, using a diaphragm call, a slate call and box caller, just might convince that tom that there are 3 or more hens calling him, wanting to breed.

Change your calls:  you will need to do cuts, excited yelps and cackles. *

Remember to make other sounds that gobblers expect to hear from hens.  More info about these sounds is at:  Bagging the Hung-Up Turkey  (look for “Why Might These Work?” – near the bottom of the post).

Two Things to Remember 

  • It may require extensive calling to convince that gobbler to fly over to you.
  • As long as that tom stays and continues to gobble, you have a chance!

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*For audio of these calls — clicking on the underlined words will take you to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s site.

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‘Proud Crowd’ used by permission of Restyler’s Choice Graphics

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Thanks for stopping by; hope you will join us again soon! 

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm  Comments Off on Getting a Gobbler to Swim to You!  
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Today’s Joke: Logic and Men

Logic 101


A wife asks her husband, an engineer, “Could you please go shopping for me
and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get 6.”

A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk and the eggs.

The wife asks him, “Why the devil did you buy 6 cartons of milk?” He replied,
“they had eggs.”

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My husband, an engineer, doesn’t understand what’s wrong with the interaction above!

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Taking a few days off to enjoy the holiday!

 Hope you are too!

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 This blog is a companion to my website:   GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 8:58 am  Comments Off on Today’s Joke: Logic and Men  
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Bagging the Hung-Up Turkey

It’s Happened to Most Hunters

Sometime during a hunt, you get a gobbler almost close enough for a shot.   But he will come so far and no further!

Your Choices

You think you might be within range of the tom.  If you take the chance, you may only wound the gobbler and your chances of recovering him are poor.

If you only scare the turkey, you will spook him and he won’t hang around for you to try to hunt him later.

Remember, a spooked turkey doesn’t forget  a close call.  He may not move to a new zip code, but he sure won’t hang around for you to try again!

Turkeys Use Their Wings to Protect Themselves from Your Pellets; Think of Those Wings As Kevlar-Covered Protection!

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Are There Any Other Possibilities?

Yes, there are.

But before I cover them, please remember one of my favorite sayings about turkey hunting:   Nothing is 100% True (100% of the Time) With Turkey Hunting!

If you can change the situation, you might bag the bird without forcing a bad shot or scaring him away.

Possibility # 1

If you let the gobbler walk away, you might be able to move closer to his new place and call him to you.

Possibility # 2

Another option is to circle the tom and get in front of him.  Then change your calls and try to get him to come to you.

Why Might These Work?

The difference between a hunter and a very successful hunter is understanding turkey behavior.

Some hunters use a variety of methods to call a hen.  However, a master hunter understands that hens make a variety of noises and movements.

Turkeys spend most of their day getting enough food.  While turkeys are calling for mating partners, they are not wasting time; they are also looking for food.

Turkeys expect to hear more than calls.  If he comes close and no further, he is waiting to hear other sounds that assure him that he is really heading towards a hen.

It is critical to add scratching to your calls.  But these scratches need to have a cadence (pattern):  scratch, scratch, pause, scratch.

What I’m asking you to do is think like a turkey.  Assure that hung-up gobbler that a hen is waiting for him, but she’s paused to get another bite of food!

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‘Threesome’ Rear Window Graphic is used by permission of Restyler’s Graphics!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 12:03 am  Comments (1)  
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More Important Turkey Hunter Behaviors

Did You Remember the Insect Repellent?

I have a personal belief that insects, flies and other small creatures are in cahoots with turkeys.  They jump into action: zeroing in on your nose, eyes or wandering up your leg at the critical moment.

Ask me how I know.

Go with the non-scented variety of bug spray.  The good news is that a turkey’s eyes are more sensitive than his nose.

Just don’t choose some scent that doesn’t occur in his world:  old spice, gardenia, vanilla.

Are You in a Good Shooting Position?

Sitting ‘straight on’ narrows your ability to get your turkey.  If you are right handed, it is better to sit a quarter to the right of the turkey you are calling.  This way,  you have a full 180 ° you can turn while getting off a shot.

If you are left-handed, sit a quarter to the left of the turkey you are calling – for the same reason.

Sitting straight-at a turkey narrows your range of firing.

Do You Concentrate on the Turkey & the Bead of Your Gun?

To shoot accurately, it is important to see both the turkey and the bead of your shotgun as you fire.   Turkeys are often missed when a hunter forgets this important step.

Remember:  The bead isn’t on the shotgun for decoration!

Are You Patient Enough?

Hunters often miss gobblers because he/she was in a hurry; rushing to take a shot from a poor position.  Take your time and let the tom move into place for a good shot — or don’t shoot.

Are You Wearing the Right Camouflage?

The ‘right camouflage’ means a pattern that fits the terrain where you are hunting.  Wear a pattern clear enough to disguise you; old and shiny camo is worthless.

Are you wearing jewelry?  Is everything not covered by camo fabric, covered by matte black?  Gobblers are looking for movement.  Jewelery, skin and shiny weapons reflect light.  Turkey eyes are about 5 times sharper than ours.

If you are fully covered in camo, then you will have the confidence to move when you must.  You will be assured enough to let the gobbler come in close;  you won’t feel the need to take just any shot because you are afraid the tom will see you!

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Darn, I’m going to miss turkeys when the season is over!

Come back for another thrilling episode!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 12:04 am  Comments Off on More Important Turkey Hunter Behaviors  
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Important Hunter Behaviors While Going After Turkeys

Hunters may sit for hours, waiting for the right gobbler.  However, there are things that can go wrong — that will turn your sure thing into a miss.

Did you take care of these things?

Some Hunters are more Interested in the size of a Turkeys Beard (note the long tuft of hair coming out of this birds chest) and/or Spurs!

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Did You Sight-In Your Shotgun?

If you don’t know what kind of pattern your shotgun shoots, you are at a real disadvantage.  You need to know the pattern at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards.

Confidence is an important ingredient in hunting.  Only by testing the pattern with each type of shot you plan to use, will you know that you are prepared to shoot at a range of distances.

Need more info?  See:   Shotgun Shell Patterning

Have You Learned to Estimate Distances?

If you haven’t learned to “eyeball” distances when hunting,  you are at a severe disadvantage.  Successful hunting is the marriage of practice, training, luck and woodcraft.

Practice stepping off distances, so you know if that turkey is within range of your weapon!

If you have a hard time estimating distances like I do, go early and walk off a couple of important distances and set a landmark.

During the excitement of  hunting, you will have marked measurements to use for comparison.

Do You Know Where to Shoot a Turkey?

It may seem obvious, but a turkey has a small “killing zone.”  For more, specific info, go to:  Is Your Shotgun Ready?

Do You Know How to Position Yourself?

If you aren’t in a comfortable place, you will not be able to wait the long times sometimes necessary to bag a turkey.

Remember, turkeys are on the lookout for MOVEMENT.  If you start fidgeting because you are uncomfortable, some tom will see it and move on to a safer area.

Find a comfortable tree to lean against because you don’t want your muscles to tense, cramp or shake.

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Thanks for stopping by today!

Come again!

I’ll return soon with the other half of this article!

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‘Turkey Dream 2’ used by permission of Restyler’s Choice Graphics

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on April 18, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on Important Hunter Behaviors While Going After Turkeys  
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Sunday Special: Air Force Rear Window Graphics

Continuing for the next few weeks, I will show more of the designs we carry for the 5 branches of our military.  Today, it is the Air Force‘s turn!

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Freedom Flight Air Force (One Available for Each Branch of the Service)

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Air National Guard

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John Rios Air Force Dog Tags (One Available for Each Branch of the Service)

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Air Force Logo on Flag (Also Available with AF Emblem on Flag)

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Defensor Fortis

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Available in multiple sizes — to fit almost any vehicle on the road today!

Previously Shown:  Marine Corps Decals

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Come Back Tomorrow:  More Hunting & Fishing News!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com 

How to Use the Life Cycle of the Turkey to Your Advantage!

The Rest of the Story

Turkey poults are quick to learn!  In the first few days of life, the young chicks  learn the critical lessons they need to survive.

After 3 or 4 of years, these young poults can teach you new ways to pull out your hair in frustration! Something to look forward to, right?

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Poults need high protein meals at first: Bugs and grasshoppers. The wider the chicks range for food, the more likely he is to be attacked by hawks, and other predators.

Generally, being in open, exposed areas makes attack more likely. As months pass, turkey chicks learn to thrive in their habitat.

By the first leaves of fall, the poults have merged into young turks. Their diet has changed from bugs and leaves to acorns and other foods on the forest floor.

As spring rolls around to their first birthdays, they separate along gender lines.  The young jakes travel with the other toms and find their place in the pecking order.

Life goes on.

How Can You Use this Info?

The younger the turkey, the more he chatters, generally speaking.  It isn’t until his first brushes with hunters that he comes to understand that there is danger in responding to a hen’s call.

First year jakes are ‘raw recruits.’  Fresh from the safety of their mother’s wing, these birds must learn to take care of themselves.

If he survives the first couple of years, he becomes more cautious and quiet.

Turkeys have incredible memories.  If a tom has been spooked by a hunter in a certain place, he won’t return (to the scene of the near-crime).

Important Factors

If you are a newbie hunter, aim for the younger gobblers.  They lack experience and are easier to call and bag.

Both wild and domesticated turkeys could live to the same ripe, old age:  their early teens.  However, few wild birds last that long.

Life is tough in the wild; fewer than half of the poults that hatch will survive to see their first birthday!

As you grow in hunting skill, you will probably want to try the 4 to 5-year olds.  These birds are hunting at its best; they are nimble, wily, cautious and oh-so-sneaky!

Other Articles of Interest

Instead of trying to rehash this info, I’m going to send you to 3 good articles.

Happy Hunting!

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Sunday:  Picture Day at 3 G’s!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 12:08 am  Comments (1)  
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