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How to Roost Wild Turkeys for Better Hunting

Here are some roosting pattern insights and tips for each of the four major wild turkey subspecies we hunt.

By Tom Carpenter

Eastern — In the Midwest, East and Northeast, oaks (especially white oaks) and basswood make prime roosts, as do surviving elms. Eastern cottonwoods are good, too. Pines and other conifers are often chosen in inclement (rainy or snowy) or cold weather. In the South and Southeast, cypress, sycamore, live oak and loblolly pine are important roost trees. 

Putting a bird to roost can lead to success the next morning.

Merriam’s — Ponderosa pine is a preferred nesting tree across Merriam’s range. This subspecies prefers an open area (instead of dark, thick forest) for the good visibility provided as birds approach the roost in the evening and come down in the morning. Look for good-sized trees spread out across a pasture or meadow.

Rio Grande — Because they typically occupy open or prairie habitat, Rios exhibit extreme roosting flexibility and adaptability. The tallest tree in the environment will get attention. Often this means cottonwoods along a river or creek, or a patch of live oaks on southern Rio habitat.

Pecans, willows and cedars are also used. But Rios have been known to roost on power lines, power poles, windmills and oil derricks. 

Osceola — Florida turkeys are partial to cypress trees over shallow water, as well as pines. This subspecies likes its roost in or near an opening or clearing, such as the pastures that are so common in Osceola country.

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