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Finding Fall Birds

A plump, juicy turkey is a popular center piece during Thanksgiving dinner. While most people purchase their birds down at the local supermarket, others prefer putting a bird on the table by testing their woodland skills against one of fall’'s most cunning creatures – the wild turkey.

Wild turkey flocks are much more silent during the months when trees make the woods ablaze with yellows, oranges and reds. Unlike spring, turkeys are driven by food in the fall rather than the need to reproduce. Therefore, one of the most challenging parts of fall turkey hunting is finding birds.

According to James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., scouting food sources is one of the best ways to find turkeys in the fall.

“Like all wildlife during autumn, turkeys are preparing for the coming winter,” Kennamer said. “So the best way to find them is by learning their food sources and why they are feeding on them. All turkey hunters should be able to identify at least three preferred foods.”

During autumn, turkeys feed primarily on hard mast dropped by oaks, beeches and maples, as well as other trees that produce nut-like seeds. There are also varieties of soft mast such as hawthorn, dogwood and crab apples available in the fall.

However, trees don’t produce every year, so the trick is to know the foods turkeys prefer and to find which foods are available.

Some of the foods that turkeys prefer in the fall are:

  • American Beech

  • Grape

  • Oak

  • Black Cherry

  • Crab apple

  • Hawthorn

However, turkeys are opportunistic feeders. They will eat almost any seed, fruit, nut or insect that can fit down their throats.

It’s pretty simple. Find the food, find the birds.




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