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managing for turkeys

B. Amish

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what do turkeys need to stay on a tract of land? what types of foods do they prefer? what type of cover do they need? what do they need for the winter?

thanks in advance, any info is good info

i've tried internet searches, but everything i find is for southern states, i want to know what works here in MN

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If you had to construct the perfect turkey hunting area....wow, what a beautiful project!

I'll give it a shot.

-Roost trees - can't much manage for 150 year old white/burr oak on ridge tops (besides restraint from logging them), but you can manage the habitat around it to persuade turkeys to roost in these areas if they're available to you. An open fly-down spot isn't a must, but man is it great when it works out like that!

-Food - Most of the turkeys I've killed in the spring are full of clover/alfalfa shoots and/or corn (probably from feeders rather than field crops). During winter on our land, they hang out near corn stubble or unpicked corn (the taller the better). As for the chufa, I'm not sure about climactic and growing season concerns. Best to contact the NWTF in MN about that one. They could probably also steer you towards some native species that turkeys favor, rather than spreading exotics around the countryside. Many deer foodplot seeds are now shifting over to both deer and turkey friendly mixes, but again, I don't know the ins and outs of growing these in our northern climate. Water tends not to be such a big problem in most areas of H20-rich MN.

-Open areas/Strut zones - Pasture lands, mowed or low growing grassy areas, and low alfalfa are great for this. If the grass gets too high, turkeys don't seem to prefer getting their feet all that wet in the early morning dew.

-Winter cover/shelter - South and west facing slopes hold birds taking advantage of the winter sun, but I've seen birds winter on well-covered north slopes as well. So maybe cover trumps that one? Dunno. In my area, red cedar, non-native conifers (blue-spruce comes to mind), and even thick stands of deciduous trees, keep the snow depths tolerable for the birds. They still need good roost trees, but cover seems to take priority. Coyote predation can be an issue all year, and especially in the winter, so many folks recommend a predator control program (.22-250).

Good luck!


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