Ask The Biologist

Too Much Wild Turkey

Too Much Wild Turkey

By Bob Humphrey

Have no fear, turkeys and deer get along just fine.

QUESTION: This summer I’ve been noticing more turkeys on my property than I’ve seen in the past, and they’re spending a lot of time in my food plots. My neighbor says I should drive them off or they will keep the deer away in the fall. Is this true, and what is the best way to keep them off my ground?

ANSWER: You didn’t mention where you are from but I’m guessing it’s a region where turkeys are still relatively new in the restoration process. Otherwise, you and your neighbor would have figured out long ago that deer and turkeys do just fine sharing the same property, and sometimes even the same food plots.

Despite the overwhelming amount of scientific and anecdotal evidence to the contrary, some folks are still inclined to perpetuate the myth that turkeys somehow displace deer or compete with them for food.

Yes, they do eat some of the same foods, but turkeys only feed during the day while deer can potentially feed 24/7. They both eat acorns and other nuts, but both species do quite well in years of poor mast crop, so neither one can possibly “out-compete” the other for food.

A rowdy bunch of turkeys might, on occasion, be disconcerting enough to drive deer out of a particular plot or patch of woods, but only temporarily. As soon as the turkeys are gone, the deer will be back. And an aggressive deer is just as likely to intimidate a flock of turkeys. Bottom line: View the newcomers not as a problem but an opportunity for recreation and a positive sign your property is a healthy environment for wildlife.

And if you need some help thinning turkey numbers in the spring, I’m available.

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