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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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!

 ~

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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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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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!

 ~

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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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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There’s Little You Can be Sure of While Hunting Turkey

Here are some items that may help you be more successful while hunting turkeys.  Before I get to them, however, I need to mention an important fact ….

As the mating season progresses, the gobbler's calls get more strident and insistent – as more hens leave for their nests and the incubation period (26 to 28 days).

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Nothing is 100% True (All the Time) With Turkey Hunting

These wily birds stay alive by using their wits.  When you are in a life-or-death match with a turkey, my money is on the gobbler!

He’s lasted as long as he has because he learns and adapts to new situations better than humans do.  After all, his life is on the line each time he meets a hunter!

Understanding Turkey Behavior

Well, it is getting hot out in the field.  The tom is full (for now), and he wants to go back into the woods to rest.

Where do you think he will choose to enter the woods?  Look for a spot that offers a clear line-of-sight for 50 to 100 yards.

A gobbler isn’t stupid.  He will not enter the woods where there is a thick cover; and he cannot keep an eye out for those pesky 2 and 4 legged predators.

Convincing a Gobbler to Go Against His Best Interests

Folks, it isn’t going to happen.  Trying to call a gobbler to you when he’s just entered a field for feeding — is against his best interest.

It will be a waste of breath to call him. He’s hungry and he’ll stay put until he’s eaten.  It’s a better plan to call him after he’s full and looking for a new place to rest or loaf.

When a tom is surrounded by his hen harem, he’s not going to leave them to search for a single hen that is calling him.  Why should he disappoint all his girl friends to wander after some shy chick – who is probably some hunter calling him with a few “sweet nothings?”

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FYI:  Be Careful Where You Step!

I found a water moccasin in my greenhouse yesterday morning — looking for a way out.  Snakes are on-the-move in Texas because of the drouth.  They are looking for water!  Be extra careful hunting in dry areas.

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“Turkey Dream 2′ is used by permission of Restyler’s Choice Graphics

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

Turkey Hunting: The Most Dangerous Shooting Sport in America!

You may have heard that turkey hunting is very dangerous;  it’s true.   The goal of this posting is to remind you of the worst dangers.

Believe it or not, the gobbler has a daily routine. If you can figure it out, you can find a place to take advantage of his routine!

How Can Turkey Hunting be Dangerous?

Let me count the ways …. First, hunting on public lands, by its nature is more dangerous than hunting on private lands.

There are more people (probably unknown to each other) holding loaded weapons at the same time, in the same area.

Being dressed in full camo often restricts your line-of-sight.

While concentrating on our quarry, we often lose sight of what is around us.

Hunting Behaviors that Can Cause an Accident

  • Stalking turkeys, instead of calling them to you
  • Trying to ‘drive’ turkeys, as if they were deer
  • Shooting at any part of a turkey, other than the turkey’s neck or head
  • Wearing red, white or blue
  • Not knowing where other hunters are
  • Not knowing what is beyond your next shot
  • Not knowing what is between you and your next shot

An Explanation

Stalking a Turkey: The gobbler you are stalking may turn out to be another hunter with a gun aimed at you!  Or, another hunter could be watching the turkey you are stalking – and shoot you!

‘Driving’ a Turkey: Turkeys don’t respond well to this kind of pressure; few bag a turkey in this way.  However, the chances of becoming involved in a shooting are great.  Call the turkey to you.

Aim for the Gobbler’s Head or Neck: Gobblers are big and hard to kill. Know the killing zone of a turkey:  the head or neck!

Wearing Red, White or Blue: Dress like a turkey & you could be shot — instead of the turkey!

Biologists tell us that turkeys and deer are color-blind for the colors red & green. That is why you can wear blaze orange and not worry about detection.

If turkeys see you and you are in orange, they are aware of your movement, not the color!

Not Knowing Where Other Hunters Are: Things change — owners sell their property to new folks … hunters try new areas … people forget.

Not Knowing What is Beyond the Shot You’re About to Make: While hunting, you are your brother’s keeper! If we don’t watch for each other, we can create a tragic accident!

Not Knowing What is Between You and Your Next Shot: Same explanation as above!

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Tomorrow: Some Truths About Turkey Hunting

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‘1999 Minnesota Turkeys’ 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 12, 2011 at 12:02 am  Comments Off on Turkey Hunting: The Most Dangerous Shooting Sport in America!  
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Outsmarting A Turkey Tom!

Turkeys move into open, agricultural areas to feed and return to the woods to roost!

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Outsmarting a Gobbler

 

Many hunters enjoy the competition between themselves and the wily turkey.  By the time a tom reaches the age of 4 or 5, he’s had many encounters with hunters; and you can tell who won!

A seasoned gobbler has a variety of tricks to try on the poor hunter who thinks hunting turkey  is a quick process.  The truth is:  Shooting a young jake or 2-year-old tom is pretty easy — in comparison to out-foxing a mature tom.

After awhile, some hunters bypass the youngsters and concentrate on the challenge of the older gobbler.  What does it take?

Humility and a Turkey Education

Believe it or not, the tom has a daily routine.  If you can figure it out, the odds start to tilt your way.  (However, nothing is foolproof  — or 100% –with a turkey.)

Returning to a theme of an earlier posting, * a hunter needs to know:

where the turkey roosts,
where he travels,
why he is going there,
what he does when he gets there.


If a tom is not pressured or disturbed, he tends to his tasks on a fairly regular time-table.

A Typical Day for a Gobbler

Morning: He awakens, gobbles a bit and flies down to meet a hen. After mating, he wanders around a bit.  Then he heads toward his eating area and tries to get hens to go with him.

Noon-ish: He eats with his hens in a feeding area.  Then he starts to strut, drum, dust and breed until it gets too hot.  (Biologists say most of the mating takes place mid-morning.)

During the heat of the day, toms enter the woods and rest.  By 2 pm, the boys start heading back to the field for food; and they spend more time mating.

Afternoon/Evening: As dark skies take over, the tom flies or walks back to his roost.

How Will This Help?

When the hunter knows the turkey’s movement patterns, he/she can situate him/herself in a good place along the turkey’s path.

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‘Spring Turkey’ 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 11, 2011 at 11:35 am  Comments Off on Outsmarting A Turkey Tom!  
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When You Are Hunting a Wily Turkey Tom

A Story With a Moral

Robert, an experienced turkey hunter, shared a story that happened a few years ago.  He lived in a hilly area and could do a little hunting before going to work.

Keep Telling Yourself that a Turkey's Brain is the Size of a Walnut; After a While, Maybe You Will Even Believe it!

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Disappearing Gobbler

Around daylight, Robert would often hear the insistent gobbling of a tom; making noise from one side of a nearby hill to the other.  By the time Robert joined the hunt, the gobbler had quieted and would not stir.

After a few mornings of calling a little and calling a lot with no response, Robert questioned if there was any turkey at all!  He tried circling, setting up near the roost, everything he could think of — but no turkey appeared.

This is War!

Robert started learning everything he could about his quarry.  Eventually, he realized what the turkey was doing.

After the turkey called his hen harem, he flew down into a glade, where he had a clear view of the hillside.  If Robert appeared, the turkey saw him and left.

If Robert wasn’t on hand, the gobbler would strut in the clearing and gather his hens for breeding.

A few days later, Robert was in the glade before daylight.  He positioned himself  about 200 yards from the turkey’s roost and waited.

As the area lightened, Robert gave 3 soft tree yelps. *  The wily turkey flew down from his roost into the clearing, looking for the hen that had called him.

And that morning, Robert bagged his turkey!

What’s Important About this Story

This story shows just how important it is to learn everything you can about your adversary.

To be successful with this difficult bird, Robert needed to know:

  • where the turkey roosted,
  • where he traveled,
  • why he was going there,
  • what he did when he got there.

Some hunters think that superb calling skills and snazzy camo wear are all you need to snare a turkey.

Robert’s story explains why understanding gobblers is more important than just about anything else!   What you wear and how you call a turkey is only important after you understand your prey!

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PS: Hunters also say that it is important to hunt an experienced turkey in a different way or place.  Robert met the turkey where the tom didn’t expect to find him.

* Site of National Wild Turkey Federation; audio of 11 turkey calls.

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‘Woodland Splendor’ 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 7, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on When You Are Hunting a Wily Turkey Tom  
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