Strut Zone blogger and longbeard expert Steve Hickoff has heard a flock of myths about wild turkeys over the years. In this gallery he dispels 15 of those myths and brings some fact to the conversation about turkeys.
Myth: Smoke-gray phase turkeys aren’t wild. Fact: Wild turkey color mutations occur naturally nationwide. Red and white wild turkey feathering also occurs in the wild.
Myth: You can’t call back scared turkeys. Fact: Wild turkeys are gregarious and want to regroup. A loud noise like a gunshot might temporarily spook them, but not forever. Sometimes you can immediately call in spooked birds; other times you can call birds back to an area after giving them a little time to calm down.
Myth: You can’t eat wild turkey legs because they have too many tendons. Fact: Parboil the turkey legs and thighs for 90 minutes in a tall pot 3/4 full of water. Pull the legs and cool. Pick the meat and use in soups, stews, pasta and even salads with your choice of seasonings. (This photo is of angel hair pasta and alfredo sauce with wild turkey drumstick meat.)
Myth: You can’t call a turkey downhill. Fact: Turkeys go uphill, downhill and sideways to find other turkeys. How do you think that big longbeard got to the bottom of the draw?
Myth: Turkey poults drown in the rain by looking up. Fact: Hypothermia can kill young turkeys, not drowning. If you’re hit with days of cold, wet weather after the poults are hatched, you can expect for some young birds to die of hypothermia.
Myth: Turkey hens don’t have beards and don’t strut. Fact: Found in less than 10 percent of female turkeys according to studies, adult hen beards are skinny, often 7 to 8 inches long, with a kink in them. This photo is of a bearded fall hen. Boss hens strut to show dominance. Some reliable sources have even seen and heard the rare hen gobble.
Myth: You can’t call spring gobblers away from hens. Fact: Submissive satellite gobblers running with a dominant longbeard often look for a chance to breed, and will sometimes leave henned-up flocks and check out a hunter’s calls.
Myth: Turkeys don’t cross fences or creeks. Fact: Sure, turkeys hang up sometimes when faced with obstructions but others simply fly over fences or creeks.
Myth: Warm winters make turkeys nest early. Fact: While gobbling activity sometimes increases with warm weather, female turkeys nest according to the increase in daylight (photoperiod).