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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Diet Of A Wild Turkey

Understanding the animals we hunt is key to becoming a better hunter. For wild animals, food and water are one of their primary motivations each day. Wild turkeys are no exception. Much like humans and bears, turkeys are true omnivores. This means they eat a combination of plants and living organisms. This ability to adapt their diet to what is available locally is one of the reasons that turkeys have been able to thrive in many different environments around North America. They also possess a gizzard like other seed-eating birds, which allows them to process hard foods like nuts and acorns. The gizzard is an organ composed of strong muscles that can break down and grind hard foods. Turkeys will even regularly eat some small pebbles which will end up in the gizzard and help break down hard foods. Despite their ability to eat just about anything they find, they do have some preferred foods.

In the spring, turkeys will eat primarily insects, berries, green plants, and grass. Hens will consume a large number of insects and snails because it will aid them in egg production. Spring is the mating season for turkeys. When turkeys are born in May or June, they are referred to as poults. A poult will consume primarily insects due to the high protein content. As they get older, the hen will teach the poults how to eat other foods. Fall will see some variety in their diet and consumption of hard mast like acorns and nuts, though greens and insects remain an important part of their diet as well.

If you own property and are interested in having more turkeys around, consider planting tall mast-producing trees to create a forested area. The acorns can sustain turkeys through long winters when food is scarce and the turkeys will roost in the tall trees. A grassy field or meadow will provide the turkeys with their preferred springtime foods of grasses and insects. Corn and berries are also excellent foods to have around for turkeys. After the corn is harvested in the fall, the cut corn on the ground will certainly attract turkeys. The great thing about the varied diet of turkeys is that it contains many foods that also attract deer and small game. By focusing on planting food that wild turkeys like, you will also create a great habitat for other critters you may want to hunt.

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