On the Trail of a Gould’s Wild Turkey

Before you get too excited, let me say that the Gould’s Turkeys range over

Although this Gould's feathers are not fanned out, you can see the end feathers are very white!

Mexico, with some scattered  in southern New Mexico.   Chances are that you will travel to Mexico to hunt for this subspecies.

Description of a Gould’s

This is the largest of the subspecies of turkeys — weighing in at over 20 lbs.  Because of the rough terrain they call home, the Gould’s spurs are usually shorter than the Eastern turkey’s through wear.

  They resemble the Merriam’s turkey because of their white tail feathers.  

Look at the Merriam’s below and perhaps you can see that their feathers are not as white.

This Merriam's turkey has his feathers fanned out. They do not have as much white on their feathers, nor is the color as white as the Gould's!

Distinctive Sounds of Gould’s

Folks who have hunted this subspecies mention that the Gould’s has a “lazy gobble.”

As John Trout, Jr., mentions:   “It’s not thunderous like the gobble of the Eastern wild turkey but is slowly drawn out, lasting longer than the gobble of any other subspecies.” *

 Hunting Tips for the Gould’s

Hunters who have “hunted them all” (taken wild turkeys of all 5 subspecies), say that hunting for the Gould’s is an adventure.

Because most of them are in northern and central Mexico, they are not as easy to hunt as the others.

Be ready for lots of walking to get within range of the Gould’s.   The terrain is rough and mountainous.

You will need patience to be successful.  Remember that sounds carry over the mountains and their responding gobble to yours may be coming from a great distance.

It may take the gobbler 30 minutes or more to get to you.  Don’t move around to a new location — be patient.

With the Gould’s, a higher pitched seems to work best. Experienced hunters prefer the two-reed mouth call with this species because of its high pitch.

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* John Trout, Jr., The Complete Book of Wild Turkey Hunting, publ. 2000 by Lyons Press, Canada.

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

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Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm  Comments Off on On the Trail of a Gould’s Wild Turkey  
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Searching for the Merriam’s Turkey

Often called Rocky Mountain turkeys because of their habitat, Merriam’s turkeys prefer to roost in ponderosa pines (in canyons), near creek beds.

States With ONLY Merriam’s:

Arizona,
Colorado,
Idaho,
Montana,
New Mexico,
North & South Dakota,
Utah,
Washington,
Wyoming                                                                                                             

Merriam's Turkey Tom and Hen


Merriam’s & the Gambel Oak

On the eastern edge of their habitat, where there are no pines, the gobblers roost in hardwoods.

Merriam’s prefer acorns, but there are few oaks in their range. If you see, however, a small oak, known as the Gambel (in mountain areas), Merriam’s hens prefer these trees for nesting areas and food.  Since the hens are in the oaks, toms will likely be there too.

Traveling in good-sized, mixed groups (hens, jakes, toms and jennies) is a pattern of the Merriam’s.

Unlike the Eastern turkey, these Rocky Mountain turkeys tend to find a new roost each night.  They travel more than other turkey subspecies.

Using This Info While Hunting 

Because these birds range over large areas, using a friction call will be to your advantage.  Their sounds are louder and will carry over longer distances.

Because we know that the Merriam’s travel to a new roost most nights, it follows that they will travel farther to get to a hen than most turkey species.  Flying or traveling over large distances is less of a concern with the Merriam’s.

Once you start the communication process with these gobblers, you don’t need to try to get closer to them because this is pushing your luck.  The idea is to stay put and encourage the bird to come to you.

You can be spotted when you move because you can see long distances in their preferred habitat — and so can they!

Looking for Merriam’s?

Because of the dry conditions over much of the US, start your search for the Merriam’s by heading toward water.  Like humans, these birds must drink water each day.

When calling, be patient.  These turkeys may be a mile away and it may take 30 minutes, or more, for the excited gobbler to arrive.

Once the wild birds move close, imitate their actions.  If they are scratching or drumming, you should too.

Remember, turkeys know that calling doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  They expect to hear other sounds from a hen while she’s calling.

For more info about these other sounds, go to:  Bagging the Hung-Up Turkey  (bottom of article).

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

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Published in: on May 16, 2011 at 12:06 am  Comments Off on Searching for the Merriam’s Turkey  
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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

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 7:21 am  Comments Off on More Fascinating Facts About Wild Turkeys!  
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Talkin’ Turkey: The Rio Grande & Merriam’s Subspecies

Since the Eastern Wild Turkey’s habitat is the largest and they are the bird you are most likely to see, I’ll be comparing the 2 today to the Eastern.  Next time, I’ll spend time with tips for hunting the Eastern.

By explaining them in reverse order, this gives the reader an opportunity to scratch their head and say, “What was she thinking?”

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys

Rios are Turkeys for the Desert & Dry, Open Areas!

Looking at a bearded Rio from the side, or above, he looks almost like polished copper.  It’s great camouflage for hiding in his habitat — sun-soaked desert areas.

How can you find Rios?  They need food, water to drink and live oaks for roosting.

Where there are no live oaks, check out the cottonwoods, sycamores and hackberries.

Their strut zones can be anywhere in the open country where Rios live.  One distinctive thing about the Rios has to do with traveling.

After they leave their roost in the morning, they may travel a long distance before settling again.  If you recall, in Just How Much Land Do Turkeys Need, I made the point that turkeys are not migratory.

However, in the huge expanses of dry, arid land of Texas, Rios may need to travel larger distances to find sufficient food for the members of the group.

Merriam’s Wild Turkey

Merriam's are Distinctive: Tipped White Tail Feathers & More Black Feathers Instead of Brown

Often called Rocky Mountain turkeys because of their habitat, these gobblers prefer to roost in ponderosa pines (in canyons), near creek beds. On the eastern edge of their habitat, where there are no pines, the gobblers roost in hardwoods.

Unique Features of the Merriam’s Turkey

Merriam’s prefer acorns, but there are few oaks in their range.  If you see, however,  a small oak, known as the Gambel — Merriam’s turkeys will try to use these smallish tree for food and roosting.

Merriam’s hens also are drawn to Gambel oaks.  They use these trees for nesting areas and food.  Since the hens are in the oaks, toms will likely be there too.

Traveling in good-sized, mixed groups (hens, jakes, toms and jennys) is a pattern of the Merriam’s. Unlike the Eastern turkey, these Rocky Mountain turkeys tend to find a new roost each night.

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Next Time: the Eastern Wild Turkey Subspecies

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