This Turkey Tuesday is about the transition that many of us hunters are now having – that is, shifting our focus from deer seasons to the upcoming turkey seasons. With deer hunting seasons over or about to be, many of us are starting to turn our attention to thinking about turkeys. Managing deer and turkeys has many similarities, in that many actions we take to improve habitat for turkeys also benefits deer, and vice versa. But interestingly, what’s occurring in their respective worlds as us hunters transition our focus couldn’t be more different. In the deer world, bucks have lost weight and are now recovering from breeding while dealing with winter, some are even shedding antlers. Deer are using smaller ranges, bucks that have shed antlers often form groups, and everyone is focusing squarely on survival – food sources are now key, eat at reliable locations. In many ways, wild turkeys are heading in the opposite direction. They’re ramping up for the onset of breeding season, using larger home ranges that will shift on the landscape, and the larger winter flocks will soon start dissolving into smaller breeding groups. Turkeys are also about to start diversifying what they eat and where they go to find food, all as their movements shift to new parts of their home ranges. The take home is, what we do to manage habitats for deer and turkeys can in many ways be entirely compatible, but the critters themselves have a dramatically different annual cycle that is on full display as winter turns to spring.
Photo by Clayton Worrell.