On the Trail of a Osceola Wild Turkey

If you are hoping to get a crack at hunting all five of the subspecies of wild turkey, plan to hunt in Florida for the Osceola.

Actually, in some areas of Florida, you will find both the Eastern and the Osceola wild turkeys, sharing the same habitat.

The Skinny on the Osceola 

Of all the subspecies these are considered the most beautiful. They have

Most Biologists Consider the Osceola to be the Most Beautiful of the 5 Subspecies of Wild Turkeys.

more golden and green body feathers.

Perhaps because Osceola’s call the Florida swamps ‘home,’ their legs, spurs, tails and beards are longer than average.

‘Pure’ Osceola’s only live in southern Florida.  Because Eastern wild turkeys also live in Florida, some biologists consider all the turkeys as hybrids and refer to them as “the Florida subspecies.”

What Makes the Osceola Unique

These birds prefer to roost over water in cypress trees. Their habitat includes hardwood swamps, palmetto grass lands and live oaks.

When gobblers want to strut their stuff, they fly to dry land near their roosts.

Because of the difficult habitat of Osceola’s, non-natives find hunting these beautiful birds difficult, dangerous * and expensive.

Hunting the Osceola 

By the time you factor in out-of-state licenses, lodging and land (on which to hunt the Osceola), the price of a domestic turkey in the supermarket is an amazing bargain!

Hunting the Osceola isn’t much different from hunting the Eastern turkey except for the handicapping factor of having to maneuver in swampy conditions.

One helpful factor is that the Osceola roost in the same areas each day — unless they are spooked or over-hunted.

Land Options

It can get rather crowded hunting the Osceola on public lands.  Remember to call less – because of the added pressure of so many hunters.

Hunting on private land can be quite expensive.  Before putting your hard-earned dollars on the table, make inquiries about guided hunts, as well as public and private land hunting prices and conditions.

You want the hunt to be memorable for the enjoyment you had and not the staggering price you paid!

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* The Osceola hang out with some heavy-hitters:  alligators, water moccasins, mosquitoes and diamondback rattlers!

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Come Back Saturday:  for our Joke of the Day

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Come Back Sunday: for our Wildest of the Wild Rear Window Graphics

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Thanks for stopping by!

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

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 6:51 am  Comments Off on On the Trail of a Osceola Wild 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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The Fascinating Osceola and Gould’s Wild Turkeys

Osceola Wild Turkeys

These Beauties Hang Out with Alligators, Water Moccasins, Mosquitoes and Diamondback Rattlers!

Of all the subspecies  these are thought to be the most beautiful.  They have more golden and green body feathers.  Perhaps because Osceola’s call the Florida swamps ‘home,’ their legs, spurs, tails and beards are longer than average. ‘Pure’ Osceola’s only live in southern Florida.  Because Eastern wild turkeys also live in Florida, some biologists consider all the turkeys as hybrids and refer to them as “the Florida subspecies.”

What Makes the Osceola Unique

These birds prefer to roost over water in cypress trees.  Their habitat includes hardwood swamps, palmetto grass lands and live oaks. When gobblers want to strut their stuff, they fly to dry land near their roosts.  Because of the difficult habitat of Osceola’s, non-natives find hunting these beautiful birds difficult, dangerous * and expensive.

Gould’s Wild Turkey

We know little about this subspecies other than it is the same species as our

Efforts to Introduce Gould's into Arid Areas of the US Have Been Hampered for 3 Reasons!

domestic turkey. Although the largest of 5 turkey types, Gould’s have the smallest numbers.

What Makes the Gould’s Unique

These turkeys live mostly in the dry Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.  A few are found in extreme southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.

Biologists tell us that Gould’s habits are more like Merriam’s than any of the others.  Because of where they live, Gould’s are viewed as  more wild and secretive.

Moving Gould’s Into the US

Because the US has large tracts of land too arid for Merriam’s, they have worked with the Mexican government to move more Gould’s into the US.  However, this plan has been slow, at best.

First, Gould’s thrive in extremely remote regions of Mexican mountains.  Second, there’s the age-old problem of 2 governments working together.

The US requires a quarantine of these birds and captured wild birds do not respond well to quarantine.

Finally, the US government wants to introduce these birds to areas free of other subspecies, so the Gould’s can grow a “pure” population.

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* Dangerous — Osceola’s live amongst alligators, water moccasins, mosquitoes and diamondback rattlers!  Under certain conditions, all 4 can be lethal.  😉

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Next Time: More on the 5 Turkey Subspecies

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

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 6:04 am  Comments (1)  
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Talkin’ Turkey: Which Turkeys Are Where?

The Next Few Articles

Today’s article will tell which subspecies of  gobblers are in each state.  Next, I’ll share info on each subspecies — including the differences between them.

After that, I’ll discuss some mating and roosting behaviors.  Finally, I’ll share what I know about shotguns and computing the density of your shot.

These Turkeys are Thinkin' 'bout Spring!

The Eastern Wild Turkey

If you remember the pictures of turkeys plastered on school room windows in the first grade, then you know what the eastern gobbler looks like.  This is the largest group of wild turkey in America.

States with ONLY the Eastern Variety:  *

  • Alabama,
  • Arkansas,
  • Connecticut,
  • Georgia,
  • Illinois,
  • Indiana,
  • Iowa,
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana,
  • Maine,
  • Maryland,
  • Massachusetts,
  • Michigan,
  • Minnesota,
  • Mississippi,
  • Missouri,
  • New Hampshire,
  • New Jersey,
  • New York,
  • North Carolina,
  • Ohio,
  • Pennsylvania,
  • Rhode Island,
  • South Carolina,
  • Tennessee,
  • Vermont,
  • Virginia,
  • West Virginia, and
  • Ontario, Canada

States with Eastern Plus Other Turkeys

Eastern & Osceola: Florida

Eastern & Rio Grande Turkeys: Kansas, Texas

Eastern, Rio Grande & Merriam’s Turkeys: Oklahoma

Rio Grande Gobblers

Rios are slightly smaller than the Eastern species, but have larger, thicker feet than the Easterners. The are fewer Rios than Eastern toms, but more than the Merriam’s or Osceola’s.

States with ONLY Rios (this is not a misprint!):  Hawaii

States w Rios & Merriam’s Turkey: California, Nebraska and Oregon

The Merriam’s Wild Turkey

These are often called the Rocky Mountain turkeys because, oddly enough, most live in states around the Rocky Mountains.

States With  ONLY Merriam’s:

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

Next time, I’ll spend time on the Osceola and Gould’s Wild Turkey!

Turkey Hunting Season(s) by State

Here are the open turkey seasons by state.

Only Spring Turkey Season:

  • Georgia,
  • Idaho,
  • Louisiana,
  • Maine,
  • New Jersey,
  • North & South Carolina,
  • Ohio,
  • Rhode Island,
  • Utah
  • Ontario, Canada

According to the info I have, all remaining states offer turkey hunting in the spring AND the fall! **

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* and ** The info I’ve shared here may have changed.  Biologists are trying to move wild turkeys into new areas all the time.  If you have new info about subspecies moving into your state, please let me know so I can correct this.

Likewise, states change hunting seasons for a variety of reasons.  If you have different info about turkey season in your state, please let me know:  marylouise at GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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

Talking Turkey: Which of the 5 Types are Near You?

Across North America, there are 5 subspecies of the turkey (genus Meleagris)

Eastern Turkey

These Guys are 'Thinkin' Spring!'

These  turkeys  ‘strut their stuff’  from Maine to the northern regions of Florida and west to Oklahoma.  This is the largest group of the wild turkey.

Merriam’s Turkeys

This subspecies lives in the western US.  Generally, they are somewhat smaller than the eastern types.

Osceola Turkey

This is a small group of turkeys that roam over Florida, and no where else!

Rio Grande Wild Turkey

This subspecies calls Texas “home” but can range as far north as Kansas and down south into Mexico.

Gould’s Wild Turkey

These birds hale from central Mexico but often wander north into New Mexico.

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Turkey Info: Did Ya’ Know?

A Turkey’s Weight – A wild turkey’s habitat determines his weight. They can reach 20 lbs. in the agricultural areas of the Midwest. In other areas, they average somewhat less than 20 lbs.

How Far Do Turkeys Forage? Biologists claim that turkeys can travel between 1 and 2 miles per day.

However, if the birds are living in an area that cannot support a large number,  they range further – between 50 acres to 5 miles!

What Causes Turkeys to Move to a New Area? In general, turkeys do not migrate.  They tend to acclimatize to the area they are in and stay close within the region.  However, they will move out of an area if something scares them away (predators, for example)  or the land will no longer support their numbers.

How Fast Can Gobblers Move? Turkeys can run as fast as 15 mph – on the ground!  In the air, they can reach 55 mph!

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

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm  Comments Off on Talking Turkey: Which of the 5 Types are Near You?  
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What’s Unique About Each Variety of Wild Turkeys?

As mentioned previously, there are 5 subspecies of the North American wild turkey. Generally, they have some distinctive differences that a hunter should be aware of before setting out to do battle with the “big birds.”

The Eastern Turkey

Eastern turkey – has the largest numbers. They are available along the eastern coast from Maine to northern Florida, and as far west as Oklahoma.

They roost in pine or hemlock trees, along the top of a ridge. When it gets fairly warm, they move on to treed areas around open fields.

Near their roosts, they select a “strut zone.”  During the opening days of mating season, they may not use the strut zones at all. However, in the waning days of the season — when the number of hens starts to drop (hens have moved to their nests for incubation), the boys may get started strutting right after coming down from their roosts.

Merriam’s

Merriam's: Note the White Tips on the Lower Back & Tail Feathers!

Merriams – live in the western US. They prefer ponderosa pines, along creek beds or on the sides of canyons. In the eastern part of their range, there are no pines and they use hardwood trees.

Merriam’s are ‘travelin’ turkeys.’ They like to move around and seem to find a new roost each night. The turkeys tend to travel in mixed groups (gobblers, jakes and hens).

The hens like to use Gambel oaks (in mountain areas)  for eating the acorns and for nesting.

Osceola

Osceola – live only in Florida. These turkeys like to roost over water in cypress trees. They fly to the closest dry land to strut.

It’s easy to hunt for these birds, but hard to take one home because of their unique roosting habits.

Rio Grande Wild Turkeys

Rio Grande – reside mostly in Texas, but range as far north as Kansas and as far south as Mexico.

Oak trees are the preferred roost for these turkeys. However, there are few of these in this arid region, so they roost where they can: sycamores, cottonwoods and hackberry trees.

Strut zones can be anywhere; once they leave their roosts (in the am), they may travel for miles. Food is scarce in these areas, and they have to travel to eat.

Gould’s Wild Turkey

Gould’s Wild Turkey – lives mostly in central Mexico and some reside in New Mexico.  These birds have similar habits to the Merriam’s.

Some hunters comment that they seem wilder than the Merriam turkeys.  Their habitat is drier than the Merriam’s live in – however they often are larger than their Merriam cousins.

Did You Know?

Wild turkeys could live as long as their domesticated cousins, but few do. According to biologists, the wild ones rarely live past 5 years, while the domestic version can live into their teens!

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

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