You Ask, We Answer
Q. I typically turkey hunt in the South but have a chance to hunt Merriam's in South Dakota this spring. I am accustomed to hooting like a barred owl to entice turkeys to gobble on the roost before dawn, but I'm wondering how the various subspecies of wild turkeys will respond to a barred owl call?
A. Regardless of the subspecies of wild turkey you are hunting, a few common locator calls will make a tom gobble.
Western turkeys, generally Merriam's and Rio Grandes, are more likely to respond to coyote howls, especially at dusk, than their eastern cousins. I've had results from the crow call, barred owl hoot, coyote howl and pileated woodpecker calls. It doesn't usually matter if the turkey has never heard one of these noisy neighbors.
Q. Recently we visited some friends in Diamond Springs, Calif., who built a new home on a hill. They have a large gathering of wild turkeys that visit them regularly. It looked like the turkeys were eating the grass seed recently put out. We wanted to know what do turkeys eat and what is their most beneficial diet?
A. Turkeys eat a wide variety of items, including grass seeds, berries, fruits, nuts, vegetation, insects and invertebrates. They are very opportunistic feeders and will basically eat anything they find or can catch.
Young turkey poults eat mainly insects for their first few months of life. This high protein diet allows them to grow quickly, so foods higher in proteins and carbohydrates are preferred.
— James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D.
Q. I planted 13 acres of oaks back last winter in an old field along the creek which crosses our property. The field was too hard to get farm machinery in so my brother and I decided we would do something to help the turkey flock on our farm. When we checked on the trees this summer, we found that the deer had eaten the tops out of a third of them.
We know the deer have to eat too, but we cannot afford to keep replanting our trees. Any suggestions on how to keep the deer away?
A. Your best bet is tree shelters. Deer are naturally attracted to planted seedlings that have come from a nursery. These plants have been heavily fertilized and are very palatable to deer and other animals. Deer are browsers and love succulent green seedlings.
Tree shelters provide physical protection for the seedlings until they are large enough so that deer and other animals cannot harm them. Tree shelters also create a mini-greenhouse effect around the seedlings, thus enhancing growth.
Although there will be a higher cost associated with your initial planting, the success of your tress will be greatly enhanced. The NWTF sells tree shelters at very competitive rates through Project HELP. For more information on Project HELP, click here.
— Ron Brenneman
Q. I own land that is mostly hardwoods with lots of oak trees. We've got a couple of small alfalfa pastures on which we raise a few cows. It looks like great turkey woods to me, but the turkeys always seem to disappear before we get a chance to hunt them.
Where do all the turkeys go during the spring? Do we need to plant something to keep them on our place? We've got farm equipment we can use to put in wildlife openings.
A. Your problem is probably a lack of nesting and brood rearing habitat. Your place sounds like it has a lot of fall and winter food sources but may be lacking in other area. BACK TO TIPS ARCHIVE