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This Turkey Tuesday is about personalities – in this case, continued evidence that how toms behave can be highly variable from one bird to the next. In many species, research is showing that there isn’t an “average” individual in regard to behaviors, instead there appear to be ranges of personalities. Some individuals exhibit risky behaviors, whereas others adopt the reverse strategy. Ongoing work by Nick Gulotta is showing similar trends in wild turkeys, in that how toms appear to have varying personalities. On heavily hunted public lands, where hunters access hunting areas in many ways dictates how much risk a tom encounters in regard to interacting with hunters. If you’re a public land hunter, you know that a common strategy is to get as far away from roads, parking areas, etc., in hopes that you’ll find birds that are less pressured, and hopefully, easier to hunt. The 2nd image shows how variable a group of 5 toms were in their movements relative to distances to these hunter access locations. As you can see, a couple of toms (birds on left) took a pretty risky approach and spent a lot of time fairly close to areas where they’d be likely to encounter more hunting pressure. Conversely, one tom in particular (far right) clearly avoided these access locations and took the approach of being shy and not risky. The question becomes, do these varying approaches influence survival across toms? Well, ongoing analyses will tease that out. The take home is, as turkey hunters we certainly see a wide gamut of behaviors in the birds we hunt, that variability and those personalities make turkey hunting the addictive pursuit that it is!

Picture of toms @ Tes Randle Jolly

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