Turkey Management

You are visiting this site it is because of an interest in turkey hunting and/or turkey management. Wild turkey are amazing animals that garner a lot of attention from both hunters and non-hunters, so you are not alone in your desire to manage for this majestic upland game bird. So revered in fact that Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey the national bird of the United States of America. He didn’t get his way, but sportsmen and land managers across the country enjoy seeing and hunting the smart, sophisticatic wild turkey.

What is management? Or more specifically, what is wild turkey management? Well, the management of anything implies the organization of activities to accomplish desired goals and objectives. Objectives are short-term accomplishments that a person can achieve in a set amount of time. While goals are larger, more broad based ideas. An objective of your turkey management program may be to create more forest openings before summer, create a new food plot that will be ready for spring hunting season, or maybe even conduct a controlled burn of a pasture during the fall. Numerous short-term habitat management practices should become objectives if you wish to improve your property for wild turkey. And “improving the turkey habitat found on your property” or “creating better turkey hunting” can be your overall turkey management goal.

Let’s say we want to manage for wild turkey, where do we go from here? First, you need to determine what wild turkey need. In short, regardless of the sub-species, turkey need nesting habitat, roosting habitat, feeding habitat, food, water, and space. With all of these components in place, every property has the potential to become a turkey magnet. Of course, now that you know what wild turkey need, does your property have or provide all of these habitat components? This is the second step. Look objectively at your property and take inventory of the habitat types that comprise the whole. Do you have a turkey roost? Do you have adequate nesting areas, or feeding areas?

Once you understand the specific requirements of wild turkey, determine where your property may be falling short, identify what habitat requirements need to be enhanced to remedy the problem/s, then you can move forward with a successful turkey management program. It is at this point that you can set measurable habitat objectives for the benefit of wild turkey in your area.

Common turkey habitat management practices include protecting turkey roost areas, creating forest openings, establishing turkey food plots, conducting prescribed burns, and applying turkey harvest management. Protecting turkey roost can be very important because without reliable roost on or near your property, turkey may not use the area. Often times, roost protection simply involves limiting human disturbance in and around the roost site. Turkey food plots, obviously, are developed to provide supplemental food to wild turkeys. Winter food plots are most beneficial for local turkey populations because of the lack of food available during this time of year.

In areas with vast expanses of woody cover, forest openings or thinnings can be done to enhance beneficial grasses and forbs that turkey use for food. Prescribed burning can also maintain or promote beneficial grasses that turkey use as food. In addition, clearing and then subsequently burning in later years can be used in combination for successful habitat management. Lastly, harvest management may be an important part of your overall turkey management program to prevent over-harvest of the local population.

Will turkey respond? If there are turkey in the area, then any habitat management practices that you implement will only enhance wild turkey use of your property. Turkey have a large home range that can encompass several square miles, but if all of their habitat needs are met in a smaller area, such as on your property, then they will be less likely to move around in search of food, water, or adequate roosting sites. If you are serious about turkey management on your property, then I invite you to check out the rest of this site that is dedicated to helping you enhance your turkey habitat and turkey populations.

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Turkey Hunting and Management