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Will Controlled Burns Ruin My Turkey Hunting?


Controlled burnWill it spook turkeys on my property if I do a controlled burn two weeks before the season opens? — Jarrett Keith

You’re probably OK. Obviously, fire — whether a wildfire or controlled burn — will move turkeys out of an area temporarily. However, they often return quickly. Further, burned areas often attract turkeys. Consider this excerpt from an upcoming Turkey & Turkey Hunting article by Brian McCombie.

“Much of Texas has been in drought for several years, and in Spring and Summer 2011, huge swathes of the Lone Star State were engulfed in wildfires. In the foothills of the Palo Pinto Mountains, about 90 miles west of Fort Worth, immense wildfires swept through the area near Possum Kingdom Lake this past summer. Research scientist Bret Collier had GPS units on several local birds. Potentially, that information could help turkey managers use the most efficient management and habitat strategies in areas affected by fire.

“’Turkeys are smart, and they get away from fire as fast as they can,’ he said. ‘After the fires swept through this area, I had birds immediately move back into the fire zones to feed. Frankly, there are a lot of dead critters when you have these big fires, and the birds find lots to eat.’

“Fire clears out overgrown habitats, including those taken over by invasive plants. New vegetation sprouts up after a fire, including numerous forbs and grasses turkeys eat. The new plant growth also attract insects, which turkeys love.”

Obviously, you don’t want to conduct a burn the day before the season. However, doing one two weeks before the hunt likely won’t hurt — and might help — your odds of success.

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