This Turkey Tuesday is about how to improve the quality of forage plots planted for deer, only from a turkey’s perspective. With fall deer hunting seasons in full swing, many of us plant forage plots to attract deer, provide nutrition for them, and increase hunting opportunities. Well, turkeys can and do benefit from many of those plantings, and there are ways to optimize the attractiveness of them for turkeys. Succulent green forage is an important food source for turkeys during fall and winter, and planting mixtures that include cereal grains (such as wheat or oats) and clovers (such as crimson and white) provide not only fall and winter forage for turkeys, but also excellent forage during spring. If your deer density allows it (not super high), consider reducing the planting rate just a bit below what is recommended for deer plots, as doing so will allow native forbs to also become part of these same plots – those forbs will attract tons of insects in spring. Along that same line, disk a strip around the outer edge of the plot in the dead of winter to stimulate production of those same native forbs, which not only attracts insects, but also serves as escape cover for poults using the plot in late spring. In fact, I’ve even disked strips across the center of larger plots in winter to “break-up” the plot and provide increased diversity of forbs and native plants in the plot during early to mid-spring – when I’m thinking about turkey hunting and supporting broods rather than deer hunting. The take home is, many forage plots planted for deer hunting can be super valuable to wild turkeys, particularly if you’re willing to tweak them just a bit.
© Tes Randle Jolly