Like you Strut Zoners, I'm getting my fall turkey permits, multiple-state licenses and other details all lined up. Once bow turkey, resident honker and other opportunities begin in September, it's fast and furious on this end until the winter show season. Four plus months of sweet madness.
It all started today in the northern New England summer heat; at least in my mind. I dropped $15 for a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, a long-tailed duck drake bobbing on the open ocean next to a bobbing deke.
You don’t need to see that visual red swath of heat on Weather Channel maps to tell you it’s hot in some regions of turkey country right now. These birds are challenged by many things in summer: brood hens raising poults, and in the case of both sexes, finding drinking water.
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife (TP&W): “Turkeys, like all other terrestrial animals, require water for survival. Wild turkeys are able to get water from green plant material, fruits, insects, dew and free water from puddles, ponds, creeks and rivers. In the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie, water is generally not considered a limiting factor in habitat, except during extreme periods of drought.”
Fellow turkey hunting fanatic and friend Jim Spencer confirmed the rumor: Ray Eye, one of the most well-known and beloved personalities in the turkey-hunting industry, continues to fight a valiant battle with some serious health issues—the result of a run-in with his lawn tractor late last month.
According to Jim, Ray spent some time in the hospital and had an operation to remove a big blood clot in the Achilles tendon area of his right foot.
Should enhanced predator controls be applied by state wildlife departments? What about those old-school bounties? According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD), additional predator “control” strategies (such as a bounty system or management method other than hunting and trapping) wouldn’t benefit wild turkeys.
Here’s where it gets tricky. It’s legal in many states. At least if they’re bearded. Sure enough, some hens have beards, often thin, with a kink in the middle, though they can go eight inches or so. Consider recent kill statistics for two states this past spring season: one in America’s turkey-hunting heartland and another on the northern edge of turkey habitat.