Winter is probably the toughest time of the year for every wildlife species — and wild turkey are no different. Regardless of the species of turkey, they all have to survive the winter to make it another year, breed, and increase the local turkey population. One aspect of turkey management that is often overlooked is winter nutrition. Like white-tailed deer, an important winter food source for turkey is acorns. Acorns provide food to many wildlife species during both the fall and winter months. All acorns have some nutritional value, but when it comes to acorns, quality is as important as quantity. Live oaks, water oaks, and post oak acorns all get the job done, but one oak species of particular interest is the the gobbler sawtooth oak.
The gobbler sawtooth oak is a variety of sawtooth oak developed from acorns taken from a tree in Maryland in the 1960s. The range of this particular species ranges from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to the northeastern states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts and the entire Southeast, except for the Florida Peninsula. These trees provide important winter food for turkey, but turkey managers should realize that oak trees do not just happen over night, so it’s time to plan ahead. Regardless of the oak species you choose to plant, make sure to get locally grown trees or trees adapted to your area.
The well-adapted gobbler sawtooth oak is great for open areas with well-drained, sandy loam or clay-loam soils. Although the acorns of the gobbler sawtooth are considerably smaller than the sawtooth oak, this variety of sawtooth can produce 150 nuts per pound! That makes the acorn readily edible and available for turkey. In addition to easy consumption, gobbler sawtooth oaks can start producing acorns as early as 5 years of age! In short, if you are looking for a quick-producing winter food supply for your local turkey population, get a gobbler sawtooth oak tree in the ground today!