Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wild turkeys gobbling up eastern Kansas

November 21, 2006


There was a time not that long ago when the only time Kansans saw a turkey was when it was served on Thanksgiving.

Not anymore, especially in eastern Kansas.

Take a drive in the country, and you are likely to see a flock of turkeys gathered in a field hunting for insects or wasted grain.

"We certainly have quite a few turkeys. They are one of our better resources," said Jim Pitman, small game coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

In the 1950s the only places where turkeys could be found in Kansas were along the southern border where they had crossed over from Oklahoma, Pitman said.

"It's my understanding that before we had regulated hunting seasons, they were just shot to extinction," he said.

Kansas began bringing in turkeys from other states, but it wasn't until the 1990s that the turkey population showed a dramatic increase, Pitman said.

"It just takes a while to reach critical mass," he said. "It finally gets to the point where there are enough birds out there. Then it (the population) just takes off."

Wild turkeys are more prevalent in eastern Kansas because there is more timber, and turkeys roost in trees. Their populations, however, are still growing in central Kansas, Pitman said.

Several turkeys cruise through a soybean field Wednesday afternoon. The turkey population in Kansas, particularly in the eastern part of the state, has flourished since the 1990s.

Several turkeys cruise through a soybean field Wednesday afternoon. The turkey population in Kansas, particularly in the eastern part of the state, has flourished since the 1990s.

One of the best places to see or hunt turkeys near Lawrence is on the designated hunting grounds around Clinton Lake. State turkey hunting licenses are needed.

"I think there is a really good population of them, from what I hear and see," said Kipp Walters, a ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers. "We show people the areas where they can hunt. I think we have quite a few turkey hunters."

There are two turkey-hunting seasons per year. In the spring, from April 1 to the end of May, an average of about 35,000 turkey males or "bearded" females are harvested. During the fall season from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, 7,000 to 9,000 turkeys of both sexes are taken on average, Pitman said.

Turkeys purchased from grocery stores for holiday feasts were raised in captivity. They are larger, usually around 30 pounds, while wild turkeys at their largest are about 25 pounds, Pitman said.

The taste of a wild turkey and a domesticated one, however, is similar, Pitman said. The only difference will be in the taste of the drumsticks.

"Wild turkeys spend a lot of time running from predators, and their thighs are pretty muscular and tough," he said. "The domesticated turkeys lead a pretty cushy life."

In addition to human hunters, wild turkeys, especially younger and smaller ones, are preyed upon by owls, hawks and coyotes, Pitman said.


hipper_than_hip 8 years, 1 month ago

We used to have alot of quail in this area, and then the turkeys showed up. Now quail numbers are down, and turkey numbers are up. Are the turkeys impacting quail populations?

unite2revolt 8 years, 1 month ago

Looks like they left cougars off the list of predators. =) And you DO NOT have to leave Lawrence to see wild turkeys. I have at least one friend who has them come up in his back yard, we can watch them from inside his house. It makes sense though, I mean hunting season or not you can't shoot one if its in the city limits, which at this point darn near go all the way to the lake anyway.

Berserk 8 years, 1 month ago

What about mountain lions!?!

Did we forget about the mountain lions?




countrygirl 8 years, 1 month ago

Hipper than hip--some people think the turkeys affect the quail. I think it has more to do with people cleaning out hedge rows and farmers not leaving stubble standing over the winter after the crops are harvested. Quail need cover and a food source. And people who when the hunt them, don't chase down every last bird out of a covey.

homechanger 8 years, 1 month ago

Also Turkey will eat quail eggs. That may have an impact on quail population.

Kristine Bailey 8 years, 1 month ago

I was sitting in a tree near Baldwin a couple of years ago, waiting for the deer, when HUNDREDS of wild turkeys came struting across the cut feild below me. It was kind of a disgusting display of over abundance.

Kristine Bailey 8 years, 1 month ago

If I see a mountain lion, can I shot it? Or will I be in trouble? This would only be from a tree shooting down of course, don't want to rial you maniacs up.

countrygirl 8 years, 1 month ago

I've been told that you can only shoot a mountain lion if it's threatening you, your family or your livestock. My brother-in-law in Colorado says they have them threaten their sheep all time. They gut shoot them so the cat will go off on Bureau land and die there.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

Shoot a mountain lion? They don't exist around here, so who could complain if you shot one?

Kelly Anderson 8 years, 1 month ago

Thank you 75X55!! I was waiting for someone to say that turkeys eat quail is an urban myth!! My husband is an advid hunter and he cringes when he hears that.

Sandra Willis 8 years, 1 month ago

Whyever not? I raised chickens during 8th grades through my first year in college ... the chickens ate their own eggs. Never told me why...

rrh 8 years, 1 month ago

Happy to read in this article (last paragraph) that HAWKS are preying upon wild turkeys, but I thought that HAWKS mainly preyed on wild CATS (KSU variety, especially)

homechanger 8 years, 1 month ago

Even though Wild Turkey are omnivorus, Quil unlimited states there is no proof of Turkey eating or raiding quail nests. I too am an avid bird hunter, and have seen quail in the same fields as turkey. So I stand corrected.

Kristine Bailey 8 years, 1 month ago

California Quail Lays Egg in Wild Turkey NestFile Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML found one quail egg situated on top of seven turkey eggs. On 26 April, the nest. contained 10 turkey eggs; we found no sign of the quail egg, ...

For a complete reversal of opinion, read the above. But you must remember this happened in CALIFORNIA! The wildlife there must be strange. Sorry, I could not copy only the link.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

"I was waiting for someone to say that turkeys eat quail is an urban myth!! My husband is an advid hunter and he cringes when he hears that."

Why wouldn't turkeys eat quail eggs? They eat everything else. Are you suggesting that they say, 'Oh that's quail eggs - leave them be'?

gr 8 years ago

Ha ha.

The implication was organic material.

Garbage would be included.

So, some problems would be partially solved. We could just throw our table scraps out in the streets and let the turkeys, instead of pigs, eat them.

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