Eastern Turkey Habitat

Eastern turkeys live in diverse habitats from Northeastern forests to Southern swamps to Midwestern farmlands. These birds inhabit dense forests and wooded areas interspersed with open fields or agricultural land. Mixed oak-pine forests interspersed with fields, creeks, and rivers provide ideal habitats for healthy flocks of eastern turkey. Because this sub-species of wild turkey lives primarily in woodland habitat, their home range is relatively small, with many flocks roaming only several thousand acres.

In mountainous or hilly areas, eastern turkeys roost high in hardwood trees on points, flats, or knolls just below ridge tops. In areas with primarily flat topography the big birds are likely to roost anywhere, but they often prefer straight hardwood trees that grow on small rises. During late fall and winter, individual birds and flocks will seek warmth and shelter in evergreen trees, often becoming more communal. As winter comes to an end, flocks will disperse as hens search for suitable nesting habitat and gobblers search for receptive hens.

During the spring, eastern gobblers strut in open terrain where hens use cool season food sources. These areas include nesting areas, burned areas, clear-cuts, food plots, and other areas where the habitat has been disturbed or habitat management activities have taken place. Woodland areas with thin a understory, such as oak flats, creek bottoms, logging roads, and power-line cuts, are also good strut zones where toms seeks to attract hens. Good turkey habitat makes for good turkey hunting, but it takes turkey habitat management to maintain and enhance existing plant communities for eastern turkey.

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Turkey Hunting and Management