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Variation in Roost Selection Amongst Toms

This Turkey Tuesday is about variation in roost selection amongst toms, something we’re starting to be able to tease out as technology advances. Us turkey hunters often begin our hunts focused on a bird that is roosting, as most gobbling occurs on the roost – if we’re lucky we have birds leave the roost and head our way, like those in this picture from David McCleaf. Roosts are important sites to toms – they’re places where they can gobble and feel safe. But are all roosts the same, and do all toms use them the same? Research is showing that the answer to both questions is no. This animation shows movements and roost sites of 2 toms this spring across 1 week. As you’ll see, they use a similar strategy the first 2 days, returning to the same roost location 2 nights in a row. But then both switch roost sites on day 3, where they again use that site 2 nights in a row. Then they appear to use different strategies. One tom continues to return to that third roost site for the remainder of the week, although he moves in different parts of his range. We suspect that these roost sites used repeatedly, which some have termed hub roosts, may be more important to toms than other roosts in their range. But what is different about these roosts? We don’t know as of yet. But that 2nd tom, well he continued to use different roosts each night until the week ended. I speculate that toms may have different strategies as to how they behave on a given day relative to where they roost that night, but perhaps I’m thinking too deeply about it. The take home is, roost behavior is something that is always of interest to turkey hunters, and it appears that similar to other behaviors exhibited by toms, it may vary quite a bit from one bird to the next. I also know that hunting that 2nd tom that switched roosts several times later in that week would have been frustrating, but fun!

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