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Turkey Home Ranges
Interested to know how large of an area Turkeys will live in. Many of the ranchers and farmers out west here complain of Large flocks ruining their hay and straw stacks in the winter, but as it gets closer to spring, the flocks break up and fewer and fewer are seen. Where do the birds go? And typically how far away?
Im no biologist but my guess based on many years watching them is that most stay within a few miles. That said, when they were reintroduced into areas and flourished, they quickly spread their range many miles away so obviously they aren't all set on flocking up in the same winter areas. Some disperse out to a new spot and winter around there, then some from there disperse out from there the next year and so on.
As for where they go in the spring, they spread into any suitable habitat. They need food, cover and a place to roost. It doesn't need to be a big tree. They will roost in smaller stuff if thats all thats around.
Not a turkey biologist either, but would agree with Glunt, above. From what I have seen during the spring through fall months they generally stick in a home range of a couple of sections. Hens are probably even less, more like a section. However, around where I am, I would guess that during the winter months that they will travel several miles (3-4+) to winter together in a suitable area together with adequate feed available and roosting. During the winter months on several tracts of land it is not at all uncommon to not see a turkey track for November-February, but then they start to show up again in March.
We banded a few last year in IL - a hunter shot a tom 7 miles as the crow flies from where he was banded - I was surprised!
I would think hens disperse from winter food sources (just as does do) to find safe nesting spots.
Some mountain flocks migrate up and down, similar to elk, only to a lesser degree.
Flocks winter where they have the best food source and big enough roosting areas, then disperse. Sometimes, none stick around. There were three jakes left on a huge Oklahoma ranch, when the season opened, and it held close to 500 all winter.
A few miles is normal, but tom's are fueled by testes 10X bigger than their brains, so you never know.
Think being 16, on Espresso, with a six-pack of Red Bull, and half a bottle of Viagra.
Some of the birds in Colorado around here can travel a large range from what I have seen
Turkeys generally are in fairly large flocks where there is food and cover during winter and disperse once snow starts melting and in the spring. Once hens start nesting they tend to disperse even more. Where I hunt in Nebraska there may be 20 to 200 turkeys in a flock during the winter. The largest flocks tend to congregate in winter around livestock yards or where they have lots of food. Spring flocks usually aren't more than around 8 to 10 birds unless several groups come together. Once hens start nesting I see a lot of lone hens wandering around.
In the foothills of Colo the merriams don't tend to be in near as big of flocks in the winter and there are a fraction of the birds that have a heck of a lot of country where they can potentially wander depending upon snow depth and other factors. I often find the same group of merriams in the same area throughout the spring but this may be an anomaly . They know they are safe from hunting pressure and everything they need for food, cover, roosting, and nesting is found within a relatively small area.
With that said, I think a lot changes from one area to the next. A lot depends upon the food, cover, roosting areas, snow depths, hunting pressure, etc found in any particular area.