Turkey Habitat Management
Posted by wildturkey at November 5th, 2012
Turkey Habitat Management 101
Turkey habitat management is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of turkey hunting. After all, it is nearly impossible to experience viable turkey hunting if you are not privy to an area that has plenty of turkeys to choose from. There are always things you can do in order to ensure a healthy turkey habitat, but you will have to exercise principles of healthy turkey habitat management. Here are some tips to help you get started in turkey habitat management.
Basics of Wild Turkey Consumption
Getting to know the principles of turkey habitat management involves getting to know what the wild turkey eats. The wild turkey is classified as an omnivore with an annual diet that consists of 90 percent plant food, and 10 percent animal protein. Most wild turkey populations also consume fruit, seeds, mast, greens and other agricultural crops. These are the principal types of plants that wild turkeys consume. Acorns alone are known to make up roughly one third of the wild turkey diet. There are many soft mast producing shrubs that also make up a good percentage of their diet include the dogwood, the wild grape, black gum, hackberry, cherry and other related plant species. During winter and early spring, grasses and seeds are an important source of nutrients for many wild turkey populations. During the summer, insects make up a good deal of the summer diet for young turkey poults.
What Makes Up the Best of Turkey Habitat?
For optimal wild turkey habitat management, the population should have a mixture of open lands and forested lands. These work in combination to provide the best kind of turkey habitat. Roughly 10 to 50 percent of the land should be open land. Why is open land so important for optimal turkey habitat management? The distribution and size of open areas is important because they help to create a diversity of land and sustenance. Ideally, you will want to have a large area with smaller clearings throughout. In general, you can expect turkeys to not use the center of clearings if the area is larger than 20 acres. Many wild turkey populations prefer mature woodlands that are a combination of different tree species and open under stories that are growing with non-woody plants. Most wild turkey populations will choose areas with tall grass and dense brush. They also favor areas with fallen treetops, or areas that have recently been cleared. Many wild turkey populations use these recently cleared-out areas for nesting. These areas are known to contain an abundance of insect life and vegetation that can help sustain young poults and allow them to move freely through the area.
Using Timber Lands for Wild Turkey Management
If you are working with timberlands, these areas require a specific set of production guidelines. When working with timberlands, the focus should be on optimizing soft mast production and hard production. There should also be a focus on providing a dispersed permanent system of forest openings. In order to maintain oak regeneration, an even-aged method of harvesting is recommended for these areas. This method is also recommended in order to create a viable under story and the right kind of conditions to provide the trees with maximum diversity. When working with timberlands, long timber rotations are usually recommended in order to provide the wild turkey population with a high percentage of trees that are producing mast. To keep the land viable, it is recommended that timber operations be dispersed and not readily concentrated in one specific area. In some cases, proactive efforts should be made to plan cuts in order to increase and enhance reproduction.
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