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Turkey Activity Report


HateHumminbird

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It's been requested that we try to share information on how different flocks are progressing throughout the spring. What do you guys think about a running forum message to keep tabs on what turkeys are doing in different areas?

I was thinking about a template that FM'ers can respond to from time to time when they see turkeys. The main thing I'm looking forward to learning, and I'm sure others are, is when turkeys are breeding and with hens for different areas.

So here goes nothin' for a template:

-general location (not too specific!!!.....zone, even region or county)
-weather
-habitat (pasture, corn stubble, etc.)
-number of birds
-types of birds - jake, hen, tom
-activity - strutting, flocked up feeding, fighting
-general notes
-any others????

Maybe this would be a way to keep tabs on birds without too much difficulty. If it's in a similar format each time, it would aid our ability to scan the info. Those of you hunting the birds would be able to provide even more detailed information.

Any interest? Any suggestions? Anyone feel free to start out with the first report!

Joel

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OK
Zone 411
20+ birds last weekend. At least 8 of them were Jakes. Not one long beard.
Walking right along the road in a densely wooded area.

RIGHT NEXT TO A FARM I AM GOING TO BE HUNTING!!!!!

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Yes, I agree that this would be useful to anyone who is going to or wants to hunt turkeys. I know I'll find it extrememly useful as well as post after my scouting trips. Great idea!!

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I'll be hunting in 419. But I've been watching birds in both 419 and 418. I've been seeing more smaller flocks thte past few days(3-6 birds). There are still large flocks being seen, but it looks like some of the are starting to break up. Have seen several birds strutting anf have heard a few half hearted gobbles.

Things should start happen soon. But we're still a few weeks away from any serious activity.

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Report from Le Sueur County:

Heard the first music of spring right before the rain came last week. the turkeys were really gobbling right before the storm hit. drove by my hunting land today and saw about 20 birds. watched 2 big long beards walking along in the grass about 40 yards from the road. still lots of jakes and hens with them. would think that they should be breaking up soon. takin the stick and string this year so it should be a blast.

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Nice reports! I agree with Borch that the birds will be breaking up here in a bit of time, weather-pending. Only saw one group of birds today from road.

3/28/04

-LOCATION:
339

-TIME:
12:00PM

-WEATHER:
overcast, slight drizzle

-HABITAT:
stalk-chopped corn stubble (low to ground), on bench below 100ft wooded ridge

-#/TYPE OF BIRDS:
~15 hens, 4 mature toms

-ACTIVITY:
all birds in tight group, with hens feeding amongst stubble. 2 of 4 toms in continuous full strut (white-headed). Lead hen yelping every few minutes, with younger hens purring and yelping as feeding. No gobbling.

I'd like to be out there at sunup.....sure they're gobbling the morning away!

Joel

[This message has been edited by jnelson (edited 03-28-2004).]

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Not that this will help hunters but last Thursday I saw a flock of about 10 birds with one big old tom in full strut on the shoulder of 494 in the construction zone by Bush Lake Road. It was on my way to work so it was kind of hard to concentrate that morning.

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I'm heading out next weekend to take a look around where we will be hunting, zone 343. I'll let you know what I see.

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DATES: 3/9 and 3/21/04
LOCATION: 338
TIME: pre-sunrise to 9 AM
WEATHER: sunny, sparse cloud cover
HABITAT: Public land, oak ridges, ravines, open meadow on top with standing corn
BIRD TYPE: 3/9--9 birds, including 3 longbeards
3/21--unknown number, sounded like a bunch
ACTIVITY: 3/9--tree calling and gobbling, after fly down gobbling until 7:30-ish then quiet. Sparse gobbling along ravine sides. Spotted the birds feeding, 2 gobblers watching the hens feed while standing on fallen tree, third gobbler joined the other 2 when they spotted me peeking over the hill and glassing them. Hens continued to feed, never noticed me.
3/21--hens tree calling before sunrise, occassional gobbles, heard fly down (wings), two hens fighting (fighting purrs and sharp cutts) caused (seemed like) every gobbler to sound off repeatedly. 1 or 2 gobbles after 7 AM.
Going again 4/3 AM.

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Big winter flock spotted today. To bad they are in city limits! Drove by a picked bean field, bordering a small woodlot and an alfalfa field... 23 birds, only 1 long beard and boy was he putting on a show! 2 Jakes hanging around the outside edge of the flock. Watched them for 5 minutes till they all wandered back into the woodlot. It's gonna be a long 5 weeks! Labs

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DATES: 3-27-04
LOCATION: Wright County
TIME: 5:00Pm
WEATHER: Raining like mad, very windy. Temp~50.
HABITAT: Standing (somewhat) corn from last fall adjacent to public land.
BIRD TYPE: 2 longbeards
ACTIVITY: Feeding

I was out on a 3 hour hike with my lab looking for sheds. I wasn't looking for turkey sign as this area is nowhere near where I turkey hunt. But, occassionally I glance at the horizon to scope for deer, yotes, fox, turkeys, etc. Well, we were about a mile from my truck when I glanced into the battered half a dozen corn rows adjacent to this public land to see 2 shadows milling 100 yards off.

The birds were relaxed and my lab and I were in knee high grass. I dropped down and snuck along on my knees until I got behind a 2' tall cedar. Fortunately my dog is very well behaved and I had her lie down next to me for the half hour I watched them feed along in the corn. They never spotted me as I think the wind and waving grass afforded me some movement I likely would normally not have been able to pull off.

I thought this sighting quite unusual as I have had some very difficult hunting in the past on rainy and/or windy days.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I saw a coouple yesterday afternoon as I was driving around. I'm heading out to do some scouting this afternoon. We'll see how it goes then.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Looks like the flocks are starting to break up. Saw two hens today. Later saw two toms around fly up time. They even entertained me by gobbling.

Borch

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Anybody seen birds this weekend? I'm O-fer so far, but haven't been out but to drive around a bit during the middle of the day.

Joel

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Same general information as my last report. Took my Dad out to the woods about 5 AM on Saturday, set up the D-Bull and waited. WINDY! Heard birds gobbling early and had a single longbeard cross the open edge of the cornfield and enter the woods behind us, then come back and start walking the edge of the woods toward us, got within 20 yards.

Then we had 3 gobblers come on the same "trail" 10 minutes later and head into the woods and down the hill. I thought I could hear hens down the hill but it was gusty-windy. No gobbles after 6:30 AM.
Along the road that runs at the bottom of the hill, we spotted one longbeard, sort of half-strutting, with 5 hens, including a BEARDED HEN, identical to the other hens but sporting a pencil-thin 8" or so beard!
It seemed to be a low activity day.

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Jeffy045 and I went out on Sat am for some scouting. Didn't hear any birds the whole day but ran across one lone hen. Saw plenty of scratching in the leaves where turkeys have been.
Was rather uneventful in terms of birds but that's scouting. I wish I had more to report in terms of sign or sightings. Perhaps next post as I'm out to do some scouting this week.

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DATES: 4-11-04
LOCATION: Goodhue Co.
TIME: 5:00Pm
WEATHER: Cool, overcast. Temp~45.
HABITAT: Picked bean field narrows, between two fingers of woods.
BIRD TYPE: 2 hens
ACTIVITY: Alert, searching out other birds possibly.
NOTES:
Pretty weak sighting....with no calling going on.

Reports from friends suggest the birds are broken up and spread out in this area. The only gobblers they're seeing are in groups of at least 2-3, with as many as 5 mature birds together.

I think this warmer weather has moved things ahead a bit, and I think those hunting time zone A will be greeted by agressive birds well into their breeding phase. Hopefully, the hens hold off a bit, and keep those toms guessing as they seem to be now, indicated by the groups of cruising toms without hens. It will be tough hunting for henned-up birds if the majority of hens are willing and ready to breed this soon. All of which means nothing if you find a young, dumb, or lonely gobbler!

Good luck to you lucky 1st season dawgs.....PLEASE post pics!!! I'll be starting a separate "hunting story" post for you guys.

Joel

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I had a quick scouting session on Saturday morning. More targeted at finding sign than birds due to the amount of time and ground to cover.

Birds Seen: 0 Although I did hear two gobbling between 8:15 and 9:00 am

Sign: droppings, tracks, scrathing.


Where: 419 Wright County

I did get to talk with Ben and Jeffy45 for a few minutes. But needed to head off as my daughter needed a ride to work.

I do agree that the birds have broken up. I've seen hens in small groups(2-5) as well as toms in groups of 3-6.

It could happen early this spring depending on the weather we get the rest of the spring.

Borch

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Nice meeting you Borch.

Thanks again for the good deal on the shells. Have yet to put any through a gun but I will in the next couple weeks.

I saw a gobbler following a hen along some railroad tracks along the Minnesota river yesterday. Too bad it wasn't on the 40 acres I will be hunting. Did see alot of scratching in those woods as Ben1022 said. Here's hoping they will be there at the end of May.

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Just got back from the woods in 443. (Just south of Mankato) Spotted 3 turkeys right when we entered the woods on the edge of a field. All 3 turkeys were Jakes. Heard LOTS of chatter between the hens, although I did not hear one gobbler which worrys me only being 1 week away from my season. Hopefully this warmer weather gets them going!

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I started out the season in Nebraska on the Winnebago Indian Reservation right across the river from Sioux City Iowa on 3/20. some were grouped up and some were by themselves. No talking once out of the tree. All birds were taken by stalking. Went back on 4/2 and they talked a little but still not coming to call very well 2 taken over decoys and 1 taken by stalking for the group. Went to South Dakotas Black hills on 4/10... Way to early. Talked a little and most were broken up but they didn't want anything to do with a call or decoys. Still went 2 for 3 guys by stalking. Iowa on 4/12 in Sioux City area. Lots of talking but big groups of birds in some areas. Thats what I mean to get at. I hunted a lot this year all over and I am having a hard time deciding if the grouping of birds have anything to do with mating??? Anyone have views on this??

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Usually there isn't any breeding while the birds are grouped up yet. The hens generally don't have any interest and the toms are still deciding the pecking order. Once the birds break up the toms become more eager but the hens aren't very willing for a little while at least.

I'm heading to the Black Hills May 5-9. Looks like my timing should be about right for the second gobbling peak. Talked to a guy out there Tuesday night and the hunters are doing well. Although there may be a lot of stalking going on based on what you were seeing. Unless they are hunting the lower elevations where things tend to happen a bit earlier.

Sounds like a pretty busy spring for you so far.

Borch

[This message has been edited by Borch (edited 04-15-2004).]

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Borch is right on the money. One of the best places I've seen the turkey breeding/flock cycle is in a short book called the "Turkey Addict's Manual" by T.R. Michels. He's a local boy from Wanamingo, MN, and much of his research is based in Southern MN. His website has some good stuff on it as well, but the manual is really good. From my experience, it seems to be very accurate. Check out trmichels.com to find out info.

T.R. mentions the 2 gobbling peaks in the spring based on breeding activity. Borch, you're the first person besides T.R. that I've seen mention this phenomenon in all the turkey magazines, forums, and articles that I check out.

I'm concerned that the earlier spring will push the breeding cycle up a bit, causing the later seasons (where much of my group has permits for) to face tougher conditions. It shouldn't be too big a problem though, as I've seen toms come to the call as late as the very end of May.

Good luck,

Joel


[This message has been edited by jnelson (edited 04-15-2004).]

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DATES: 4-16-04
LOCATION: Goodhue/Dakota Co.
TIME: 9-11AM, most sightings around 10:15AM
WEATHER: Mostly Sunny. Temp~65.
HABITAT: Mostly hayfields, some plowed fields.
BIRD TYPE: 6 seperate sightings
5 times a lone gobbler, 1 time a gobbler with 2 hens
ACTIVITY: Strutting or making way to new areas, crossing roads
NOTES:
6 solid sightings of mature gobblers, one was a pig. 3 sightings had the gobbler strutting in an open field all alone. 2 sightings had a lone gobbler crossing the road and heading off into new areas. 1 sighting had a tom strutting/feeding his way towards a field corner with the hens following him.

9-11AM meant lonely toms at least in the areas I scouted by vehicle. The hens that I did see were struggling to keep up to the tom, as if the tom didn't care for their presence. Maybe the hens aren't ready to breed yet?....the few things I saw today pointed directly towards that.

Lonely toms strutting with no hens makes me salivate. Yes, I do have a problem.

Joel

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Actually I've read a few Of T.R. Michel's articles in publications like turkey & Turkey hunting. I believe that Knight & Hales Gobbling guide may very well be based on his research as well.

Here's a link to several of his artles online. T.R. Michels Turkey Articles

Borch

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STEARNS COUNTY

As I type there are 13 turkeys within 5' of my PU out the west window. Four are toms/jakes the rest are hens. Some friends have licenses for later on but they must use a bow. Now as I look out the south window I see 7 deer. Went to look out the east window and see a couple nice roosters. Ain't Minnesota a butiful place to live? Wouldn't live anywhere else!! Hang on toms are fightin right by my FH. OK guys I'm back. I never knew turkeys fought til death. So now my ? is what to do? Got a dead turkey on the lawn and I really don't want to let him go to waste. Should I do like DNR policies state and let it rot on my lawn.

GRIZ

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Not necessarily a report but some observations driving from the Cities to Chicago and back this weekend. On Friday along I-94, I saw, at 1pm, a gobbler strutting all by himself just out of Hudson. About 3 miles later on the other side of the Interstate another gobbler strutting on the edge of the woods in an elevated hump in a plowed field. The rest of the way to Chicago I saw 8 flocks of turkeys of which 6 had four birds and the other two had at least 12 birds. I could only see a few birds real clear and the flocks consisted of a gobbler and three hens. Don't know the breakdown on the larger flocks.
On the way home yesterday, as the huge storm was rolling in, I saw about the same number of flocks with only one being large and ALL others were four birds. I found it interesting that there wasn't a gobbler and two hens or gobbler and four hens. Always four birds. I did see one lone bird that was a long way from any trees and feeding in some taller grass. Don't know for sure if it was a hen or gobbler but figured it was a hen. Was in an odd place...kind of by a lot of CRP ground and pasture w/no trees or cover w/in 1/2 mi.
The birds were out as early as four pm feeding and still out w/the real high winds. Of course, they were taking advantage of a little wind break and were all on the north sides of the tree belts. I was surprised to still see them out w/in just minutes of the real dark skies and rain. All were w/in strikning distance of some roost trees but I figured they would be just inside the trees feeding vs. out in the open.
Wisconsin looks like a great place for turkey hunting...have to check in to it.

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There is no doubt that WI has potential and I'm sure a pretty good population of turkeys. The I-94 corridor all the way to Madison is good looking turkey habitat.

REPORT: 04/15/04, first light

I took my wife down to the property that I checked out 2 weeks ago, right on the edge of the Minnesota River valley by Henderson, MN. We saw only one hen and heard very little gobbling. We checked out some open fields and saw plenty of tracks but no birds.
Things were very quiet.

It is good to have gotten the rain from yesterday's storms and I am sure that the leaves will be exploding soon! 21 days left until my wife's hunt starts! Best of Luck to all!

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