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Optimizing Use of Green Forage Plots

This Turkey Tuesday is about optimizing use of green forage plots by wild turkeys. During fall and winter, turkeys will often use open areas planted in forages such as wheat, oats, and clovers. In many cases, we plant these open areas to attract deer, but the question becomes – how do I increase the attractiveness of those same plots for turkeys. This picture shows a fundamental difference between how turkeys and deer view a forage plot – the ability to see vs the ability to hide. Deer are adapted to flee danger by running into cover where they hide, so we often think about putting dense bedding cover adjacent to or near our forage plots. But turkeys are adapted to seeing danger before it reaches them, that’s their number 1 tool for survival. So, to make green forage plots more attractive to turkeys, seek ways to manage vegetation around those plots to where it is knee to thigh high, on average. Turkeys feel more secure using relatively small open areas if they can see into the vegetation surrounding it. Also, this picture shows toms using a plot adjacent to a hardwood forest stand – that’s important, because in winter, turkeys are focusing nearly all of their attention on hardwood stands where they can find acorns and other hard mast. So, forage plots that are adjacent to or within eyesight of hardwood stands are more likely to be used by turkeys. The take home is, optimizing the attractiveness of green forage plots to wild turkeys takes viewing them as a turkey would – consider a bird’s ability to see danger approaching and if possible, locate plots nearby habitats turkeys most often use during fall and winter.

© Tes Randle Jolly

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