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Brad Eden

Wild Turkeys: The whipping bird of the outdoors...

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oak stob

It is hard to imagine any wildlife professional considering the wild turkey to be a bird of only mature woodlands.

 

That idea seems better suited to The Big Blue Book of Turkeys, the edition with a turkey in a tricorn and carrying a blunderbuss over it’s shoulder on the cover.

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MAArcher

I have nothing against turkeys, I love to hunt them and I love turkey pot pie.  But I guarantee you that they compete with deer and that deer and turkey both die because of it.  Where I hunt, habitat is comprised of little slices of land, behind culdesacs, industrial parks, golf courses, ball fields, all bordered by roads, busy roads, roads that are almost never clear of road kill.  When a flock of turkeys rolls through one of these microcosms; the forest floor looks rototilled, the acorns are gone when they are done.  And that means they, and the deer, have to move to the next plot, and to get there, they have to cross the highways of death.  With acorns such an important part of a deer's diet, I can't imagine why anyone would think that greatly slashing the amount of acorn available to them wouldn't have any affect on them?   I'm not saying they don't coexist well, but when small parcels of land are at carrying capacity for deer, and you introduce turkey, some of both aren't going to fare well.

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MAArcher
3 hours ago, Brad Eden said:

From suburban backyard feeders to successional (grouse cover) to edges of blueberry barrens, mature woods (of which the isn't that much in the bottom 2/3 of the state where the majority of turkeys thrive) and on available agricultural farms and dairy farms. 

To clarify, I assume when you say the bottom 2/3 of the state doesn't' have much mature hardwoods, you mean to say that because its getting developed, right?  Not that its because there's other types of habitat (successional or agricultural) available?  Because when I think of hunting in southern Maine, its 99.9% of the time going to take place in mature forest.

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oak stob

In this area and in many areas I know, acorn production runs in cycles...same for most all hard and soft mast....which is an age old story.

Squirrels especially will migrate to better areas in times of drought or mast failures and then, one does see more killed on the highways.

There can be a bit of math there with any species experiencing change in their environment...even us.

 

It would be a stretch tho, for me, to believe that turkeys, food opportunists that they are, scarfing down all the acorns, when deer easily survive and thrive on any number of foods besides acorns, contribute to increased highway deer deaths of any appreciable measure beyond the norm.

Deer and Buicks simply do not mix well....turkeys around or, not.

 

I would say that deer can ever more frequently be pushed or drawn across roads for reasons ranging from increased human activity to the pawed predators out and about and on to good food set out in a planter bed or on a putting green.

Those examples would be just a start for deer movements at bad moments.

 

I suppose it comes down to area particulars and any true degree of direct damage from turkeys...in some areas they will impact the grouse....with nests scratched out and, heck, ruffed grouse love akerns too.

 

 

 

 

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Brad Eden
53 minutes ago, MAArcher said:

To clarify, I assume when you say the bottom 2/3 of the state doesn't' have much mature hardwoods, you mean to say that because its getting developed, right?  Not that its because there's other types of habitat (successional or agricultural) available?  Because when I think of hunting in southern Maine, its 99.9% of the time going to take place in mature forest.

 

Not necessarily. Never said anything about hardwoods specifically. It's not what I consider rich in mature forests. Because it has been inhabited by humans to a degree in the past and farmed and settled. You can't go through some of the biggest tracts without finding stonewalls, cellar holes and other evidence of past homesteads. And yes southern ME is developed on up through Central Maine but not nearly as epedemic as other New England states and south. Depends on your definition of mature forest. I've seen mature forest in some islands and it's like a morgue. Nothing alive. The northwoods has what I consider mature forest, at least the areas that haven't been logged over and over by paper companies. I don't know exactly how far turkeys have gone now but I dont think they have taken hold in the top 1/4 of the state. 

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MAArcher
6 minutes ago, Brad Eden said:

 

Not necessarily. Never said anything about hardwoods specifically. It's not what I consider rich in mature forests. Because it has been inhabited by humans to a degree in the past and farmed and settled. You can't go through some of the biggest tracts without finding stonewalls, cellar holes and other evidence of past homesteads. And yes southern ME is developed on up through Central Maine but not nearly as epedemic as other New England states and south. Depends on your definition of mature forest. I've seen mature forest in some islands and it's like a morgue. Nothing alive. The northwoods has what I consider mature forest, at least the areas that haven't been logged over and over by paper companies. I don't know exactly how far turkeys have gone now but I dont think they have taken hold in the top 1/4 of the state. 

I didn't mean to specify hardwoods, just "mature woods".  Damn auto correct.  That's all we have in southern Maine (bottom third, south of 219) for the most part is mature woods, and its more softwood than hard. By mature I mean woods grown up enough that the canopy shades out most of the undergrowth.  

 

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tut

Thought this was interesting.  One Midwestern state is starting to have less turkey's and they are blaming the quail population which is rising.   I have to be believe this is tongue in cheek as they say, but this is what they posted:

 

Quail numbers are up Turkey numbers are down, logic from the locals would go that the quail are either eating the turkey babies or aggressively kicking the turkeys out...My cousin's girlfriend's uncle saw a bobwhite take out a whole nest of turkeys one day when he was out cultivating!

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bill
On 5/12/2018 at 2:17 PM, Brad Eden said:

Cripes. It seems like the Wild turkey gets blamed for everything that ails the out-of-doors. That is certainly the case here in Maine. It's no secret that some people, including hunters of other species of critters detest turkeys. (I understand they are an issue with farmers and Berry growers etc) Some ruffed grouse hunters believe they have, and are, compromising grouse populations. (That's a subject for yet another Topic on that.) Some deer hunters are convinced they compete with deer for food like acorns, thus hurting the deer population. 

 

Now the latest I am hearing at the water cooler and on social media is that wild turkeys are the cause for the "uptick" in ticks and Lyme disease. It's a thing now. These turkey haters are convinced that turkeys carry loads of ticks and their increase in population directly echos the increase in ticks and Lyme. I've researched and can't find any studies showing turkeys spread ticks and Lyme any more than mice, and deer and rabbit and hare and other birds and mammals. I did read that the belief is that turkeys actually eat a lot of ticks and that ticks prefer mammal hosts and blood over avian hosts. I've shot a load of turkeys and admittedly I don't pluck every one, but those I do and those I dont have never had a single tick on them. Those nasty mites, yes. Ticks no. They are now the whipping bird of the Maine outdoors.

 

Its bad enough that the general public sees turkeys everywhere, including in their neighborhoods and next to their decks eating their bird seed....and make them yard pets and think we are a bunch of Elmer Fudds killing the poor things.

 

Im beginning to believe the MEIF&W is starting to regret their successful reintroduction efforts and are having a hard time managing them and keeping farmers and blueberry growers and those who just detest them happy.

yes been hearing folks complain bout Turkeys when up in Maine Guess need send some these southern turkey killers North have them thin them down some

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grouse28
On 5/15/2018 at 3:42 PM, Brad Eden said:

I don't know exactly how far turkeys have gone now but I dont think they have taken hold in the top 1/4 of the state. 

Brad 

I have seen numerous turkey along the Rt. 11 corridor from Portage to Ft Kent and the Rt. 161 corridor from Caribou to Ft. Kent.

Have seen a few in Allagash village area.

Amazing to me. Quite a successful reintroduction. Have not seen any eating grouse chicks.

Heard they might be to blame for the decrease in moose!

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paul frey
On ‎5‎/‎13‎/‎2018 at 7:20 AM, lee sykes said:

George Smith wrote that turkeys are the least popular quarry in Maine and He doesn't understand it. He said that he has introduced legislation to raise bag limits and lower the license cost per bird but it has done no good.  I don't understand it either. I always thought Maine folks like shooting birds on the ground with a shotgun.  I guess part of the problem is that store bought turkey is so cheap and way better.  At least grouse taste better than chicken.  I think that many people, (myself included) believe that when you pay $27 for a resident hunting license,  it should include the right to hunt turkeys.  Some feel that the extra $20 for a turkey or four, is just not worth it.  Different strokes.

I would gladly spend $27 for a resident license.  My NY License this year cost me right @ $100.  But with that I get 2 turkey tags.

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Brad Eden

 

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Maine Eastern wild turkeys are a beautiful bird in their own right.

 

Maine Resident hunting license is $28 which includes $2 agent fee anda combo Hunt/Fish license is $45 with the agent fee. Both cover a wide range of game from hare to grouse to Woodcock to deer. I understand why some Maine resident hunters think a turkey or multiple turkeys should be included with that license, just like the 1 deer is. And maybe the MEIF&W will do that someday since they need more killed apparently. But frankly it wouldn't matter. Most hunters who don't typically hunt turkeys still wouldn't go to the effort to hunt them or even burn the gas trying to find one close enough to the road and stationary enough to blast. IMO. And despite the hee haw of how hard could it be to kill a bird you see every day, and often under bird feeders in suburban lawns....in reality as I've already mentioned, it's challenging and fun if you actually get off your ass and hunt them. (I was at a listening spot at 4:30am this morning trying to work a gobbling  henned up Tom. No go, but I saw the woods and fields wake up and watched a couple scruffy molting deer feed within 40 yards of me.) It takes effort and a passion for the sport to get engaged.

 

Generally, people who like to hunt wild turkeys and do hunt wild turkey gladly pay the extra $20 for 2 birds in Spring and 2 in the fall. 

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SelbyLowndes

The bobwhite quail should out breed the turkey by a huge factor on good habitat.  The are not doing that for some reason and I don't think it is the turkeys. I know little of ruffed grouse, but I expect the same is true with them.

 

That said however, I raised a flock of turkeys from four biddies I bought to learn how to use my turkey call years ago.  Every bird, whether hen or gobbler will take a hunting walk every morning.  I've watched it in the back yard and in the woods.  Watching them hunt reminds me of nothing any more than what I imagine a T. Rex looked like doing the same thing. Anything the size of a bug a grasshopper or a baby quail would be snapped up automatically.  However there should be enough quail hatching in the summer to off-set any turkey depredation in the wild...SelbyLowndes

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