First posted on 05-15-2012
It won’t be long until their eggs hatch and poults will be leaving their nest sites to start their lives as wild turkeys in Oklahoma.
These birds will have a large home range so their management can be a bit tricky. However, Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist, has some good advice for proper management of the Oklahoma wild turkey.
“Seldom will one landowner control enough land to meet all of the turkey’s habitat needs,” said Elmore. “Therefore, it is important to evaluate existing habitats and to identify features that need to be deleted, added or modified to improve the area.”
Making changes to an existing habitat is more efficient and economical than new plantings. Wild turkeys need to be able to roost in trees with open crowns and horizontal limbs. A lack of these types of trees may limit populations.
Wild turkeys also need some cover to use for nesting.
“Nests are usually located in thick ground cover close to the edge of fields, roads or some type of edge such as a creek,” Elmore said. “Alfalfa fields, stream banks and hillsides with grass and shrubs provide good nesting cover in the western half of the state. Lowbush huckleberry, grape vines, grass clumps and dead brush tops provide good nesting cover in eastern Oklahoma.”
Water is essential for everyday life as a turkey, as well as food and escape cover. Turkeys will feed anywhere food is available and they are not disturbed.
“Eastern turkeys tend to feed in mature hardwoods or hardwood-pine associations with open understories and small openings. They require large continuous expanses of hardwood timber for winter range,” said Elmore. “Western turkeys tend to feed in mixed grass-shrubs associations with small woodlots and forested stream corridors.”
Finally, poults need pastures or small forest openings, associated edges and fields dominated by grasses or other plants with a good insect population for rearing.
Wildlife biologists from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or the USDA Soil Conservation Service can make specific recommendations to landowners.
We'd like to hear your thoughts on this article. Reader input is what we're all about at freshare, so please feel free to comment.