NBS Outdoor Spring 2019

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he approaching turkey pecked the ground several times and then raised its red head, causing a long,

Great Plains.

For an even greater challenge, you can go for the royal slam, which adds the Gould’s turkey from Mexico, or the world slam, which includes the Gould’s plus the oscillated turkey found in Mexico’s Yucatan region. Subspecies similarities. The similarities between the four grand slam subspecies are far greater than the differences. In fact, you could fill your hunting vest with calls, ammo, and a decoy for one species and succeed on all four. They all roost in trees, often gobble at dawn, strut and breed hens in spring, and have excellent vision and hearing. Turkeys survive in flocks throughout the winter but break into small groups as spring and mating season arrive. Males gobble to attract hens who then breed and go about their day, laying an egg per day until the nest contains 10 to 12 eggs. Then, the hen sits on the nest for 28 days until the eggs hatch. Once bred, a hen is fertile all summer. Since turkeys nest on the ground, they’re susceptible to invasions from racoons, coyotes, foxes, skunks, armadillos, and other predators. If a hen’s nest is destroyed, she’ll establish a new one and begin the incubation process again without needing to breed.

“ Turkeys survive in flocks throughout the winter but break into small groups

bristle-brush beard to swing like a pendulum. The sun hung on the horizon and I mentally prayed this bird would continue its course and pass my disguised location. Earlier that day, I had missed a gobbler with a bow and arrow at 8 yards as it stood near a ground blind. The shot required an awkward angled release through a side opening and the arrow may have hit the window. My fellow hunters teased me throughout the day. “Is 8 yards too far?” “Did you allow for the wind?” The taunting was merciless. Twelve hours later, I was about to get a second chance as this monster tom worked along a tree line. I knew the range to be 30 yards. As it stepped into a small opening, I voiced an “alarm puck,” causing the bird to stop and raise its head. In an instant I released, my arrow caught its neck, and the bird lay still. Hoisting the heavy bird over my shoulder I met up with my shotgun-toting friends who returned empty handed. I made sure they posed with me as we took several revenge hold-up photos. That night, I was so excited I could barely sleep. I still consider

as spring and mating season arrive. ”

that big gobbler one of my greatest hunting trophies. Are you up for the grand-slam challenge? We hunters love a challenge. Taking the four subspecies of wild turkeys — in one year or over the course of several — is an obtainable goal that comes at a reasonable financial expense. Alaska is the only state without a wild turkey population. The skills you use on your home-state species can help you score on the other three. • The eastern turkey, found mostly east of the Mississippi River, • The Osceola turkey found in Florida south of Orlando, • The Rio Grande turkey, found in Texas and its northern neighbors, and • The Merriam’s turkey, found in the Rocky Mountains and the

The Eastern wild turkey is the most widely distributed subspecies east of the Mississippi River. You can find them in 38 states and numerous Canadian provinces.

The Osceola wild turkey (also referred to as the Florida) gets its name from its location. It is only found in Florida. There are about 100,000 of them in Florida today.

The Rio Grande wild turkey is found in western desert regions of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and other western states. Mexico also has a healthy population.

10 • NBS OUTDOOR • Spring 2019

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