Talkin’ Turkey: Let the Mating Begin!

Biologists have been giving us new insights into the habits and habitats of turkeys.  Everything we learn can help us out-fox these clever birds.

As the Seasons Change

Yes, Our Boys are Very Busy ... Preening and Strutting!

During the colder months, gobblers (adult turkeys)  flock together.  As the days grow longer, gobblers start to think about girls (hens and jennys).

In the spring months, the jakes (young males) leave their mothers. As this group of offspring grows older, the mother hens start dreaming of raising new poults (infant turkeys).  Things are changing.

The increase in sunlight hours in spring brings about the turkeys’ spring mating ritual. States that have spring turkey seasons set the dates when turkeys are spending their time breeding  instead of watching hunters.

Gobblers Think They Are ‘Hot Stuff’

By the time breeding begins, the gobblers have established the pecking order within their group.  The “biggest, baddest’ gobbler gets to breed with the most females.  While “Big Boy” is out romancing one hen, the other gobblers are looking for other receptive females – before “Big Boy” gets back.

Looking at the image above, it is easy to see that gobblers have convinced themselves that they are ‘hot stuff’ and that the hens should come running before the head gobbler tires of the mating game (an unlikely occurence).

In spite of the fact that gobblers don’t do a lick of work towards getting the nests ready, nor do they take a tour of duty during incubation time, nor do they even give a morsel to the new poults, these guys still expect the females to come to them for mating!

Applying What You’ve Learned

As a spring hunter, you will be trying to get the males to come to you.  From the above paragraph, you see that this not the way gobblers think:  They call the hens to come to them! (Those girls need to unionize!)

While hens are finding and creating safe nests for their young, what are the gobblers doing?  Well … preening and strutting, of course!

In the weeks before turkey season begins, you have 2 major jobs.  The first one is to get a turkey caller or two — and start practicing.

I found an online site that will give you the sounds you need to learn to copy in the wild.  It’s the National Wild Turkey Federation (complete with an explanation and audio of each sound).


Next Time: the rest of this article.


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Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 12:05 am  Comments Off on Talkin’ Turkey: Let the Mating Begin!  
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