3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

charlie elk
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 22nd, 2011, 9:07 am

missed bird coming back . That's just it ,,,it was missed . Had one pellet touched that rascal I doubt he would return . Turkeys don't know what a shotgun blast is . But if the bird gets a pellet or two and runs off , you can bet his memory will warn him of the noise that follows those seductive hen yelps

Not too sure about this hypothesis Mark allow me to share another observation from a participant in one of my turkey clinics a few years ago. The beginning hunter called in a gobbler that proceeded to strut back and forth on a fallen log.  The tom fell out of sight at the shot with the excited hunter racing to the log to claim his prize.  He found feathers and blood all over the place but no turkey, he searched for hours no luck.  The next morning he went to he same place; setup and called in a gobbler to the same log.  The turkey stayed on the ground behind the log strutting back and forth with a strange jerking motion.   At the shot the turkey disappeared with the excited hunter racing to the log; this time there lay a very dead turkey.  Upon examination this turkey had no feathers from his smashed thigh down.  Clearly the same gobbler shot the day before.  The strange jerking motion was the turkey hopping in strut on one leg! 

At the risk of really revving up this discussion--
In my humble opinion turkeys are not smart they are quite stupid however they make up for this with their extreme wariness. 
This is what makes it so incredibly maddening when a "stupid" turkey beats us smart hunters.[:D]

If turkeys find only from memory.  How did the first turkeys planted in a new area find their food?  Many of these first releases were done in early spring with significant snow on the ground.[8|]
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

charlie elk
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 22nd, 2011, 9:15 am

They were stripping wheat off the grain head. They would start just under the grain head and clamp their beak on the stalk then move their head up in a somewhat fast motion and strip the grain off the head that way. So some turkeys will eat wheat.

It is a seed so I would think they eat wheat, thanks for confirming they do. The wheat is a new crop the area farmers have started planting here.  Perhaps they don't know it is food because it hasn't been seen they them before.  But if that were the case; I have seen the very same stripping you describe used on oats including Wild Canadian oats which BTW look very similar to wheat. 

Scott suggested the wheat may spoiled in some way; there are pheasants and squirrels eating it.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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mark hay
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby mark hay » January 22nd, 2011, 9:29 am

I didn't mean to imply they are super smart . I do however believe they have keen instincts and memory .
 Don't know what to think of the bird that returned . I've heard it said that the dumb ones die first . Don't know .

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kenturkey89
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby kenturkey89 » January 22nd, 2011, 10:16 am

Hey Charlie,

Although I appreciate your post and the story you provided, I wouldn't necessarily classify a turkey as what you would call "stupid". At the same time, I don't consider them to be "braniacs" who are capable of rational and abstract thought, I just find it difficult to call an animal that is notorious for giving hunters fits, "stupid".

Similar to your story you posted, two years ago on a Saturday morning I called a bird in at about 9:30. It gobbled at about 250 yards off in the distance and came running in like he was in the home stretch of a track meet. I was already set up with the gun barrel pointed right at him while thinking to myself, "This is going to be the easiest turkey hunt I've ever had". At about 75 yards out he decided to cross a small creek and head up a hill to my left. He gobbled and strutted up there for an entire hour, never moving more than 10 yards from side to side. I had no place to go because as soon as I moved I knew he'd pick me out ASAP. I literally threw every call I had at him and finally he decided to come back down where he strutted in the open about 45 yards in front of me. I was using a 20ga. at the time and I told myself my range limit on a bird was 35 yards, but I decided to take the shot anyway. It was a judgement error that I have learned from and luckily I pulled the shot and completely missed the bird instead of wounding him. I found one feather he left behind as he flew away. Anyways, I went back out to the same spot a week later and there was a bird roosted in the same trees by the hill that bird gobbled on the week before, and he was by himself. I sat there for a little while and listened to the bird gobble (by the way he was pretty hot that morning) and waited for him to fly down before I started calling. He finally flew down about 100 yards away, and the first sound I made was a soft, slow yelp. Before I finished my 5-6 note sequence, that bird took off in the opposite direction running as fast as his little legs could move him. After recollecting and reviewing the situation, I realized that had to be the same bird I encountered the weekend before. Now whether or not he was "smart" enough to remember and connect that call to the gun blast that went off the week before, I don't know. But he knew that something was wrong with that call and he let me know immediately he didn't like it.

That is probably the most significant hunt I have ever had in my life. That season I learned to never push your range limits, regardless if you're shooting a 4 year old tom or a jake, it's just not worth it. I also learned that a turkey is smarter than I gave them credit for and they can outwit me in more ways than I knew possible. Now I'm not sure if a turkey can be called smart, but from my experiences I'll never call a turkey stupid.
Brian

charlie elk
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 22nd, 2011, 1:11 pm

Upon reflection I felt bad about referring to turkeys as stupid.  That has certain disrespectful connotations so I returned to edit out of my previous post but you and Mark caught me.  [:o]
I don't treat the game I hunt with disrespect as I hold them in the highest of esteem and  reverence. 
Mark I do not think you were implying turkeys are "super smart" I am still wrestling the concept they have good memories.  Instinct, wariness, survival instinct, behavior imprinting- absolutely.
Something that most certainly changes gobbler behavior in the spring of course is hormones and the drive to reproduce.  This could override any memory of a bad incident when a new seductive lady starts talking to him.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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kenturkey89
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby kenturkey89 » January 22nd, 2011, 1:37 pm

Hey Charlie,

I know what you were trying to say when you used the term "stupid" to refer to a turkey and I know you didn't mean anything disrespectful by it. I've read enough of your posts to know you respect the turkeys you pursue and the hunting industry in general. That's why I didn't get all bent out of shape about it.

And I completely agree when you said that a gobbler's increased sex drive in the spring woods can sometimes override bad memories and incidents of a certain area or set-up or whatever. That very same thing is what allows a lot of deer hunters to harvest nice bucks during the November rut. Otherwise, the harvest of those mature 4-5-6 year old bucks would be dramatically lower!
Brian

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mark hay
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby mark hay » January 23rd, 2011, 1:30 am

I'll admit this is some good stuff. I greatly enjoy this type conversation .
 
 I also admit that I'm not all that equipped with outstanding knowledge of turkeys , or how to put into words what I believe about them . I do however believe that the instincts that the Lord gave to each species which includes memory , keen eyesight and for most a keen nose , all coupled together with a certain amount of curiosity enables them to make fools of us hunters ,,,some being fooled more than others .
 The fact that they know food when they see it seems to be evident in their daily activities . Some areas of any woods hold better amounts of food than others . At times like right now with so much snow covering the ground it appears to me that they return by memory to uncover some more of the food . And , this knowledge , or memory of such areas is passed onto the younger birds by simply returning to such areas .
  My friend has an 85 acre woods with rolling ridges , water and good food and cover . Bordered on the east by a crop field and the other three sides being timbered or cedar thickets . I've noticed over the last 11 years that there are certain areas of this 85 acres that turkey seldom go into . While there are many areas that they seem to always frequent when they return here from their weekly or by-weekly circuits .
 The roost sites are in the same locations year after year . Is this due to memory or is it an instinct for a certain type tree on a specific type of terrain ? Which one I ain't sure . But it is neat to watch turkeys as they stand on the ground and look up into the trees as if they are looking for a specific limb to fly up to .
 

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Treerooster
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby Treerooster » January 23rd, 2011, 2:11 am

I believe turkeys can learn. I think almost all animals can learn. Sure seems like my dogs learn.

And to learn you must have a memory.

Joe Hutto in his book "Illumination in the Flatwoods" (a book about him raising a brood of wild turkeys) points out an instance where "his brood" remembered a predator attack in a certain area.

It has been said the only thing that can raise a wild turkey poult, is a wild turkey hen (save for Joe Hutto I guess [:D] ). The poults must learn from the hen on how to survive. There is some instinct but I believe they must also learn some things. They also probably learn, to some extent, what to eat in the area they live.

However I do not think turkeys can reason.

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mark hay
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby mark hay » January 23rd, 2011, 4:16 am

Nunnery , in the ''OLD PRO TURKEY HUNTER'' told of raising turkeys too . A hen allowed to raise her clutch compared to a clutch which Nunnery raised through incubation . The hen raised poults were wild by nature whereas the man raised birds wouldn't do or eat certain things like peas . If my own memory serves me correctly Nunnery said that most if not all of his raised birds fell to predation .
 I just began re-reading the ''OLD PRO'' last evening . I'll certainly refresh my own memory passing through this fine book.
 
 I do not believe that animals can reason . Though there are instances that make it appear that they do . More in some species than others .

charlie elk
 
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RE: 3 Feet of Snow;How Do Turkeys Find Food

Postby charlie elk » January 24th, 2011, 4:26 am

Guess it might depend on the definition of memory.  To me memory would imply a thought process similar to the way any of us view a past hunt in our minds; doubt turkeys are capable of that.  More likely the imprint and / or instinct from a trial and error process with parts being passed from or demonstrated by an older bird.  Usually the term imprint is used by bird researchers.

Turkeys exhibit a  randomness in their actions.  When I first started turkey hunting I tried to figure turkeys out like I would a deer.  One day after several seasons of utter failure I had left camp before daylight to setup.  At sunrise a truck pulled into the parking lot back at camp I feared another hunter would be messing up my carefully selected setup.  Soon not too far from camp there were some yelps followed by a shot. 
Because I had walked all around the camping area the previous evening trying to put one to bed I believed the turkeys had been driven like a deer to where I chose my setup.  This was the moment I realized turkeys are more like a cards; each day they are shuffled and dealt resulting in a totally new order each day.  You must hunt accordingly; like the hunter who drove in at sunrise and I thought he was just late. 
The next day I did not leave camp in the dark and within 200 yards of camp I killed my first gobbler. That was my turkey hunting epiphany.  But I digress.

How do they find food in deep snow?  After rereading "The Wild Turkey Biology and Management" by James Dickson chapter 6.  They don't, they can't; at least not under the snow.  They must see something that looks like food from a past experience (imprint or instinct) and then experiment by pecking at the object until it is broken into small enough pieces to swallow.  Since they are omnivores almost anything works. 
My hypothesis;
The turkeys I have been watching are roosting in red oaks and they stay there most all day.  I misinterpreted the roosting part actually they are feeding in those trees; buds, bits of bark and insects that are surely in between the bark's ridges.   Perhaps the buds are higher protein than the wheat in not the insects surely are. No reason for them to work in the deep snow.
Now; did they figure this out, use trial and error or instinct that was imprinted by their association with adult birds? 

 
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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