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Gary Howey

” IN 2017

One Small Mistake Can Ruin Your Turkey Population

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

March 28, 2016

The wild turkey is an amazing bird. Although their numbers across the U.S. are really good, most any hunter or sportsman wouldn’t mind seeing a few more where they hunt or manage land. A simple mistake we see made every year that can have a negative impact on your turkey numbers is the good old bush hog. After being on your property during the spring, you begin to see a lot of things you would like to mow and keep cut back.

Remember that those hens have nests hidden all over the place and many times they are in those grown up areas we are dying to get the tractor to and mow them down. Even routine maintenance on clover fields in the spring leads to a lot of turkey nest being destroyed. If you have chores to do on your property this spring, take the time to walk the areas out thoroughly and scout for any hidden turkey nests. The main picture here is of a nest found in a Clover Plus field at the BioLogic Proving Grounds last spring, we were really wanting to get in there and get the field sprayed, but we took the time to do some walking around before driving in there with the tractor and look what we found.

We were able to spray and avoid disturbing the nest. Although food plots are usually not the preferred place a hen will lay her eggs, it is not uncommon for them to use a spring food plot that has some good cover height to it.

Turkey nest facts:

  • Incubation time for the eggs is 28 days and each nest generally has 8-12 eggs.Turkey Nest
  • Only about half of all turkey nests are successfully hatched.
  • 55- 75% of poult mortality occurs in the first 14 days after hatching.
  • Mammalian nest predators such as raccoons, skunks, possums, etc are responsible for 90% of nest predation.
  • Poults are precocial (eyes open, feathered, and mobile) and are following the hen within 24 hrs of hatching.
  • Hens can begin another nest without being bred again if their first nest is busted or unsuccessful.
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