Tom Turkeys Are Calling

Spring turkey season is almost over. Early in the morning the tom turkeys are calling on the hills.

Flocks of turkeys call these hills home. I’ve spooked them from their night tree roosts now and then when I’ve been out hunting lost kids. If I’m really lucky, I spot a hen turkey escorting her poults in a pasture. Over the summer and fall the tom turkeys gather in loose groups to eat grass seeds.

tom turkeys are calling
Wild tom turkey are big, but low key until they start displaying. They erect their feathers and fan their tails and wings making themselves look two or three times larger than normal. The dark feathers hanging down are the tom turkey’s beard.

Walking out to milk shortly after dawn I hear them. Tom turkeys are calling from the hill beside the house, the hill hanging over the creek, another hill over the hill pasture and the hill over the south pasture.

In past years the tom turkeys would strut and display in the hill pasture. Lately they don’t leave the safety of the trees.

By midmorning the hills are quiet now. The tom turkeys are resting up for their next big effort to attract those hens not yet sitting on clutches of eggs.

tom turkey out in pasture
After a tough morning calling hens, this tom turkey is out eating insects and grass seed.

Food is an important part of this routine. The insects are busy in the grass. The grass is starting to put up seed heads.

One of the tom turkeys, probably the one from the hill overhanging the creek, was out eating in the hill pasture. He was wary. Wild turkeys have excellent eyesight.

Anyone curious about wild turkeys, and don’t confuse them with the domestic varieties, might read the book “Illuminations In the Flatwoods” or watch the movie. It’s about a man who raises a clutch of wild turkey poults to adulthood as though he were a wild turkey hen.

tom turkey spots camera
This tom turkey is over half way up the hill pasture, across the creek bed and some pasture before the tractor gate (about 200 yards) where I am standing using 50 zoom to take some pictures. He still sees me. He wasn’t too worried, but did start wandering over into the woods on the hill.

I find raising my goats and chickens challenging and would never tackle raising a wild flock. I’m glad he had the time and dedication to do so and the information about the turkeys made me respect them greatly.

For my part I will enjoy the times when the tom turkeys are calling in the spring and watch for them the rest of the year.

Read about more Ozark wildlife in “Exploring the Ozark Hills