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: Roosted turkeys stay put all night. Fact: Ever find turkeys you roosted the day before in another place the next morning? They moved during the night. Stormy weather can sometimes cause it as they seek shelter. Outdoor Life
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: Gobblers destroy hen nests to keep breeding. Fact: No biological evidence supports this. It’s a funny idea to suggest male turkeys might do this, but as polygynous birds (they have several mates), they’ll try to breed other non-nesting hens too if they can.
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: Spring gobblers only come to hen calls. Fact: Gobbler yelps, fighting purrs and gobbles also pull male turkeys in. Some dominant longbeards are just as willing to fight as they are breed.
Myth: Wild turkeys are dumb Fact: Wild birds and animals survive by instinct, so stating that one animal is smart and another is dumb isn’t exactly accurate. Hunting turkeys and deer during their mating seasons gives us a slight edge. But, “The turkey’s eyes are such that he can see a bumblebee turn a somersault on the verge of the horizon,” scribe Archibald Rutledge wrote of their uncanny ability to see movement. NWTF
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 eat quail eggs. Fact: While some blame quail population troubles on the big birds, there’s no biological evidence turkeys eat quail eggs.
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).
Myth: Turkeys get call shy. Fact: Wild turkeys call every day of their lives. Why would they shy away from it? Turkeys shy away from bad calling, so if you sound more like a screeching cat or barking dog when you try to turkey call, well …