For the best spring turkey hunting land the habitat elements we seek are nesting cover, roost trees, food source and water that combined in a small area makes for the best wild turkey hunting. Having all these environmental limiting factors in a small area and in the right region of the state is how we are able to fill all the tags we care to hunt for. In short the best turkey hunting habitat and in this case of this article for spring turkey hunting season.
Prime hen turkey nesting cover is composed of tall grass and weed areas especially such habitat along a lightly brushed in tree edge. The value of this habitat is that after flydown, servicing and crop filling or drinking the hens head to their nest frequently dragging a tom along that may be called or decoyed to a more responsive appearing hen decoy set up. Several times we are convinced the single jake decoy was all we really needed to distract the dominate tom from a hen. On this farm the flock's boss toms clearly were out to maintain their dominance. They spent as much time strutting for each other as for the hens.
These pictures were after the season, taken in hind sight of the article written during the summer. The value this lease brings is that the flock has had its roost, strutting and nesting area all on the same acreage for six continuous seasons.
The tall nesting grass appears as the brown strip in the far ground. On this side of the tree line is a cut hay field where right after flydown the flock went to grazing, toms to strutting and hens to be serviced. On the heavy dew or any wet morning the birds would range out farther and stay longer rather then head into the tall grass and brush too quickly.
Farther down from the roost and flydown area is the year round water source. It was not required this spring as the creek bottom had a flow, however this pond is where we see all the turkey tracks in the fall and probably begins to see a lot of turkey visits once the creek dries up during the summer.
Across the same tree line as the first picture by the road is a rather large crop field. For spring season turkey hunting the crop field was never productive, however I suspect it serves to help anchor the flock to this farm year round. We have seen varying numbers of birds feed on this field well after harvest while we were deer hunting farther down the creek. The last time out the flock numbered 38 birds, that we could see at one time.
A long range panoramic shot of our deer spot that is father down from the roost and the pond on the backside of the property. Observing deer and turkey both during the fall and spring is probably why we have done as well as we have on this property. I no longer turkey hunt it for myself. It is almost cheating as the last two springs I hunted the hunts did not go past 9AM. I now save hunting this farm for when my son can join me during spring break. It is a great thing that we can fill his tags in one morning and then spend time together fishing or fall deer scouting, two activities I waited too long for us to get started on probably more so for the talking we do than the hunting part.
These pictures are of turkeys in north central Missouri within the Grand River Watershed, the second largest sub-basin of the Lower Missouri River Basin and locally well known turkey hunting region. This region is 55% agricultural land use with plenty of rainfall to grow the large grain crops of corn and beans supporting large turkey flocks of heavy birds. Any bottom land will be in row crop and the ridge sides in pasture or wood lots. These pictures come from that fringe zone above the bottom crop ground and before the timbered ridges. All of these turkeys were in pasture.
While it may appear we are beating a dead horse with the issue about our farm land turkey flocks and hunting it must be restated for the benefit of those traveling from big woods states. Our intent is to make the best turkey hunt possible and that has been proven many times over by setup and call rather than run and gun. All may turkey hunt their preferred technique, our observations do show a difference just as these open ground birds readily show themselves so will an exposed hunter to the turkey. On that same note the thickness of this timbered hill will conceal a hunter that must maneuver to a better setup.
These three pictures are of two toms on different parts of the same lease. They were strutting in response to Jon Nee's call, there was not another turkey in sight.
This entire habitat series is an attempt as much as can be made in pictures and text to help give an idea of some of the conditions to be expected.
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