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Rights of Way Could be Key to Tagging your Tom this Year

Every Spring, hunters throughout North America converge on millions of acres of public and private hunting lands for a shot at a wild turkey.

These very hunters know getting close to their quarry is an important component of hunting wild turkeys successfully. According to experts from the National Wild Turkey Federation, one of the best ways to accomplish this, especially on public property, is to use utility rights of way.

“One thing that is guaranteed is that rights of ways will be managed by the utility company or state or federal agency that manages the forests,” said Jay Jordan, NWTF’s Energy for Wildlife coordinator. “They have to be managed to keep the power running to homes and businesses throughout North America, and as a result, wild turkeys and many other species of wildlife benefit.”

Before setting out to find your longbeard on a utility right of way, check to see if the area is publicly owned or situated on private property. Also, because not all rights of way located on public property are open to hunting, read game regulations to see if hunting is allowed.

These are the top five reasons to hunt rights of way this year to bag your limit of longbeards.

  1. You can cover a lot of ground quickly and quietly. Rights of way are often kept clear of brush and leaf litter because the plant material is a fire hazard. Utility companies and wildlife agencies spend a lot of time keeping rights of way in this condition, making them perfect places to move quietly and get close to roosted birds.

  2. When birds aren’t gobbling, spend time glassing rights of ways to spot your tom. Because rights of ways are intensively managed, they are often great places for turkeys to spend time looking for food, dusting and strutting after flydown.

  3. Use the terrain to your advantage. In much of the country, rights of ways have lots of variations in topography. Using these rises and falls in elevation to conceal your movement will allow you to work in closer to a bird before setting up.

  4. Gobblers go where the hens are. In some parts of the country, the only openings available for wildlife are utility rights of way, and management practices keep these areas in a low-growing and open state. This means it is a perfect place to raise young turkeys, and hens will be drawn to these areas because they are ideal places to nest and raise their broods.

  5. Run and Gun em’. Some mornings, hunters may find their most vocal gobblers aren’t making much noise. Because rights of ways offer such easy access, hunters can easily backtrack to their vehicles and try another spot.

Powerful Help

Since, 2002, the NWTF has partnered with utility companies throughout North America through Energy for Wildlife, its membership-based certification program for energy companies. The programs goal is to enhance wildlife habitat on company-managed, -owned or -influenced lands, including power line and gas rights of ways, plant sites, forestlands and other properties.

Energy for Wildlife was created by the NWTF in response to the utility industry's need for assistance in managing the millions of acres of rights of way and other land that could provide ideal habitat for wildlife. “The projects that can happen through Energy for Wildlife partnerships are endless,” said Jordan. “Through this program, we're able to bring a nonprofit conservation group, energy utilities and government agencies together to improve wildlife habitat. When so many entities pull together, the results are incredible.”

Any company that is involved in the production, transmission, or distribution of energy is eligible to become a member of the Energy for Wildlife program.

For more information about the NWTF's Energy for Wildlife program, click here or e-mail Jay Jordan at



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