Wild Turkey Habitats

Dan Forestry, Poultry


A survey by the National Turkey Federation (NTF) says over this Thanksgiving holiday 88% of us will be eating turkey. And while most of those birds served up will be farm raised, some gobblers will be hunted in the wild.

Around 6.2 million wild turkeys trot around the U.S. and can be found in 49 of the 50 states, thriving in woodlands and grasslands.

According to NTF, most turkeys’ lives start out on grasslands because mother hens build their nests in grasslands with just enough cover to hide them from predators. Once the poults hatch, they need room to walk around without a lot of woody species getting in their way. Grasslands provide insects for poults, young turkeys from hatchling to sub-adults, as they learn to eat. The perfect amount of bare ground between grasses is also important because it allows poults to move around easily.


Even though turkeys love woodlands, they won’t stay long if the understory becomes too thick. Over time without any disturbance woodlands will become overgrown which doesn’t allow enough sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor. This causes a lack of desirable plants to grow for turkeys.

Many land managers use prescribed fire to set back woody regrowth, promote herbaceous native plants, and to open the canopy understory. Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist, Tucker Slack says within six months to three years, turkeys will come back because it provides the perfect amount of concealment, while also having enough room to move around.

NTF notes that properly managed native habitat is important for these animals.

Watch this video by Texas A&M Wildlife and Fisheries Extension to learn more about managing wild turkey habitat.

Do you deer hunt in hardwood forests? Check out Grant’s plan to turn a hardwood block into great quality habitat that makes bucks much easier to pattern.

In this episode: closed canopy forests, food plot locations and strategies, the Buffalo System, whitetail cover, native browse, logging, nesting habitat and more!

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