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Backyard Birds: Turn Your Property Into a Turkey Hunting Hot Spot

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February 20, 2014
Backyard Birds: Turn Your Property Into a Turkey Hunting Hot Spot - 6

                     Photo: Mark Raycroft

Want to transform your so-so hunting parcel into the ultimate turkey property? Then learn from whitetail deer hunters and manage even small pieces of land for year-round use by turkeys.

If you do it right, you’ll have excellent habitat for spring hunting, but also all the components you need to entice hens to raise broods that you can hunt for years to come.

A couple of years after creating a mosaic of habitat, Robert Hosking now kills several gobblers a year off his 40-acre parcel in North Carolina, and he has plenty of year-round use by nesting hens, young broods, and overwintering flocks. Here’s how you can build a small-plot turkey utopia.

FOOD
Mast is great, but to concentrate turkeys you’ll need food plots. Instead of using pricey turkey-specific seed blends from stores, Hosking recommends a blend of rye, clover, winter wheat, and sunflowers, which he plants in close proximity to small patches of meadow grasses, where poults find grasshoppers after they get their dietary start with seeds.

Don’t overlook the importance of winter feeding. Hosking uses automatic feeders to distribute cracked corn through the lean months, but even where supplemental feeding is allowed, Hosking suggests planting winter wheat and rye to provide natural forage above the snow. Because standing grain will be hit hard by deer, consider low-growing forage, like the chufa tuber, in southern latitudes.

WATER
If you don’t have a natural water source, dig out a small pond. Near his food plots, Hosking scrapes a depression in the soil, just enough to hold a little standing water to keep the turkeys coming for a drink. When these puddles dry up, they often make great dusting bowls.

ROOSTS

Turkeys pick their own roosts. Identify them by locating an abundance of gobbling at dawn in areas with the most mature trees. Once you find a roosting site, resist the urge to hunt there. Nothing will move turkeys off your property quicker than showing up in their bedroom.

NESTS
You can create spring nesting habitat by piling up deadfall (limbs and woody brush) throughout the winter. Assemble these piles along the edges of timber and dense, grassy meadows. Encourage the growth of thorny brambles and dense brush along meadow edges and maintain the meadow canopy with grasses that grow at least 2 feet high.

PREDATORS

Hosking traps egg-raiding raccoons, possums, and skunks, but he also uses a natural predator defense. By deploying lots of deadfall, he keeps predators guessing about where turkeys might nest. Even though hens may only utilize a few of these nesting sites, Hosking notes that predators have to check every single one.

Illustration: Pete Sucheski

Comments (6)

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from HOGSTUFF wrote 20 weeks 3 days ago

"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all" "Thumperian principle (Bambi).
Apparently the folks who have had negative comments do not fully comprehend the art of turkey hunting. Kudos to Mr Lobas and Mr Hosking. Gobble Gobble.

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from Jim Bastian wrote 20 weeks 3 days ago

Why not just domesticate them and shoot them from your lawn chair? I mean, how unsportsmanlike do you want to be? You basically are training the birds to come around for regular food then shoot them point-blank. This is against all precepts of sportsmanlike conduct. Terrbile article...the worst example of bating.

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from Vernon Freeck wrote 20 weeks 4 days ago

I have about 125 jakes toms and hens a day going through my yard. cleaning out all of my bird feeders, scratching the dirt around the house in the winter, shitting every where and rousting about 10 yd from the house, they a great to watch, shot and eat. nothing special is done that I can see.

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from EB Tulsa wrote 20 weeks 4 days ago

And you're forgetting one critical attribute of the turkey, its wings.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 21 weeks 11 hours ago

Agree with Charlie Elk. If you're going to go to all the work of feeding them, watering them, and making them places to roost and nest, why not just high fence the place and make things easy?

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from charlie elk wrote 21 weeks 1 day ago

Sounds like you're describing the semi domestication of wild turkeys. For me that takes the fun out of hunting.
I've read a lot of your pieces Greg and this one is not up to your usual high standards.
later,
charlie

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from charlie elk wrote 21 weeks 1 day ago

Sounds like you're describing the semi domestication of wild turkeys. For me that takes the fun out of hunting.
I've read a lot of your pieces Greg and this one is not up to your usual high standards.
later,
charlie

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from EB Tulsa wrote 20 weeks 4 days ago

And you're forgetting one critical attribute of the turkey, its wings.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 21 weeks 11 hours ago

Agree with Charlie Elk. If you're going to go to all the work of feeding them, watering them, and making them places to roost and nest, why not just high fence the place and make things easy?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Vernon Freeck wrote 20 weeks 4 days ago

I have about 125 jakes toms and hens a day going through my yard. cleaning out all of my bird feeders, scratching the dirt around the house in the winter, shitting every where and rousting about 10 yd from the house, they a great to watch, shot and eat. nothing special is done that I can see.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Bastian wrote 20 weeks 3 days ago

Why not just domesticate them and shoot them from your lawn chair? I mean, how unsportsmanlike do you want to be? You basically are training the birds to come around for regular food then shoot them point-blank. This is against all precepts of sportsmanlike conduct. Terrbile article...the worst example of bating.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HOGSTUFF wrote 20 weeks 3 days ago

"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all" "Thumperian principle (Bambi).
Apparently the folks who have had negative comments do not fully comprehend the art of turkey hunting. Kudos to Mr Lobas and Mr Hosking. Gobble Gobble.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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