On this Episode of the How to Hunt Turkeys Podcast Paul talks with Wild Turkey Biologist of the NWTF, Ryan Boyer. Ryan, is a turkey biologist, hunter, communicator and general good dude. Paul and Ryan breakdown what Gobblers are doing during various times of the season. What are the vocalizations of Turkeys? The guys dive deep into the language of the Turkey. Ryan breaks down how biology and what’s going on in the Turkeys world can impact your hunt. This episode dives DEEP into the mind of a gobbler.
Paul Campbell: [00:00:00] Welcome to the How to Hunt Turkeys podcast. I'm Paul Campbell. Join me as we dive into the world. Every episode we'll explore the minds, the finest Turkey hunters around. We will take a look at the people, the places, the tactics, the gear, and the culture that creates the mystique around America's favorite bird.
That's right, I said it. America's favorite bird, the Wild Turkey. Throw on your Turkey vest. Grab your box call. Let's talk some the How Hunt Purpose Podcast is brought to you by Go Wild Visit Time to go wild.com or download the app. iOS or Android, go Wild has all the gear. The Wild Turkey hunter needs, camel clothes, hats, vest, Turkey calls, decoys, and everything else.
Sign up for a free account today and get $10 off your first order. [00:01:00] Time to go wild. Dot com. Wicked North Gear. Delivering the very best gear for a life well lived in the great outdoors. From field kits and DIY tax derby solutions to hats, hoodies, stickers, and more. Visit wicked north gear.com. I don't wanna talk myself up too much, but I freaking love that intro.
I hope you guys like it too. Great tune behind there. I love goblin turkeys. I worked really hard on that. Every time I listen to that, before I start the show, I'm like, wow, you're an idiot. But somehow you made what I think is a great podcast intro. Thank you so much for listening to the How to Hunt Turkeys podcast on Sportsman's Empire.
Thank you to our sponsors. Go wild, wicked North Newcomb gear, Newcomb hunting blinds, excuse me. And Turkey season.com. Thank you to everyone for sporting this show. Thank you for listening. I know I've been absent for for a few weeks. Please forgive my absence. If you're looking for some sweet Turkey hunting tips, Turkey hunting, Turkey killing content.
Today's your [00:02:00] day. Man, I've, I'm on the board here in Ohio, tagged out in Ohio. Two turkeys down for me this year so far. I've got a few more hunts left. I've taken some people out, introduced them to. The pursuit that I love so much wild Turkey hunting. I couldn't be happier. I got my boy Kenny's on the board bring taking my son out tomorrow.
My buddy Austin's out out there. Justin and Brandon got you guys out there. And I can't say how many listeners have reached out to me and said, Hey, killing my first Turkey. Got it done. Been hunting, one guy been hunting turkeys for 20 years. 20 years, and he finally got his first Turkey.
Public land, man, I'm so happy for you guys. If you're kill, if you've killed your first Turkey, you're probably not listening to this podcast right now. So when you tune in next year to refresh, congratulations. I'm proud of you. Thanks so much for this port. Listen. Join the nwtf nwtf.org.
Click on Become a Member Up at the Top. You are Turkey hunting this year. I want you. To know how much effort it goes in through the state agencies through, through government organizations for nonprofit organizations, members, volunteers of the National Attorney [00:03:00] Federation, they're doing so much good work across the country.
Across all 49 states with turkeys it really is $35 a year. You get a subscription to Turkey Country Magazine. You get some really cool there's some cool free year. When you sign up, check it out, tumblers, whatever may be, I'm not sure what's going on right now, nwtf.org, I can't tell you how important it is to be a member of that organization.
And it's really a small amount of money, but it goes a very long way. You are important, your money is important, your membership with that organization is important. So nwtf.org, click on Become a Member. Thank you for that. So today, the reason I said that is if you listen to the show, you know that I am a a full-time employee of the National Military Federation.
I am so grateful for that job. I'm grateful for the work that I get to do day in and day out. I've got one of my coworkers, a dear friend of mine, Ryan Boyer. He is a, a. Biologist, a regional biologist for the National Water Federation out of the state of Michigan. He's a really smart dude, sharp guy.
He's got a, [00:04:00] this conversation is about what the turkeys are doing right now, okay? Beginning of the breeding season, middle of the breeding season, tail into the breeding season, what they're doing, the vocalizations that they're making, what they're looking for, their day in and day out. Listen to this whole episode, okay?
If you are, if you're still struggling, If if it's kinda the end of the season down on the south peak of the Peaky you season, if you're in some of those later states, Virginia Maryland, the, that, that have started, or you're out west or if you're in the north where it's just getting started, I, today is April.
Or excuse me, today's May 1st or New York you just opened up. Listen to this biologically what's going on in the woods. It's really important for a hunter to understand what the turkeys are doing and make your game plan based off of what, just by their nature the turkeys are doing.
And that's what this episode's about. It's gonna give you a lot of just really neat pieces and information. About what the turkeys are doing. So check that out. Ryan, thank you so much for your time. Really good talk. One thing that I wanna address, [00:05:00] I did an interview a couple we couple weeks ago with the okays hunters the Okays Hunter podcast.
Dear friend of mine, Eric, really great talk. If you haven't listened to it, listen to that podcast. There was a firestorm that was on TikTok because of some of the things that I said. And so what we were talking about is. The context of the conversation was not shaming hunters for participating in the support in, in, in the sport that we love Turkey hunting, participating, harvesting something legally and ethically.
And so we were talking about killing Jake's. Okay, Jake, immature Turkey in that podcast. I said, there's a 0% chance that those. Jakes are breeding. So in actuality, it's like 1%, like less than 1%. So 99% of the breeding is done by mature turkeys. So if you look at the research, you look at the, you talk to people that are biologists that are smarter than I'll ever be.
They will tell you that there's no biological impact from harvesting a Jake. Okay? Keep that in mind. If it's legal in your state, not all states, it's legal to take an immature Turkey. So know your regulations. We talk about that and burn the [00:06:00] boats. Know your rules. Do not feel bad if you harvested Jake, I want you to feel proud of that hunt.
I want you to embrace it. I want you to learn from everything that happened. Don't let people shame you for learning how to hunt turkeys and harvesting and immature Turkey. That Turkey has value, that hunt had value. You have value. Don't listen to the naysayers. Don't listen to the hate. I can tell you with certainty that there's no biological impact and this is coming from researchers.
People smarter than me. There's no biological impact at harvesting Amature, an immature male Turkey Jake during the season. So listen to that episode on. Okay, hunter. It was really good. A ton of good talks, a lot of really good information. If you feel so inclined to, to look at the clip that caused an absolute firestorm you can find it on the Okay, hunters TikTok.
It was a really good clip. I enjoyed it, man. Your buddy Paul has been getting death threats over it. Man, keep it in perspective. All right. We're fortunate to be able to hunt turkeys. We're fortunate [00:07:00] to have turkeys in this country. We're fortunate and we're lucky to have the North American model of conservation that allows us, the privilege is a privilege, okay.
To be able to hunt wild turkeys in this country. And it's not always gonna, Be easy, but I want you to understand that, that it is it's important and take it seriously. Know that we're all just extremely lucky to be able to do what we love to do in the spring woods and the fall whenever it is that you love to hunt.
So keep that in mind. Keep that in perspective, man. I'm here to help you guys. I'm here to just spread positivity and bring people into the pursuit that I love. Bring people into the organization that I love, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and help you learn how to hunt and kill the animal that I love most on this face of the Earth, man, the North American Wild Turkey.
Listen, I love each and every one of you. Have a damn good Turkey season this year. I'm gonna put out a few more episodes regularly while Turkey season is on everyone's mind here in the month of May. But thank you so much for listening to this. Go out. Have a great. [00:08:00] Great Turkey season.
Stay focused. Burn the boats. Turkey season.com. You can email me paul Turkey season.com. If you ever wanna chat, find me on Instagram. If you've emailed me or messaged me on the Instagram, the How to Hunt Turkeys Instagram. My bad dude. I lock myself outta that account, so I'm working to get that back.
So thank you again so much for listening to me. Each and every one of you is important. I appreciate the support. Burn the Boats. Have a damn good season.
That have the goal right now, the mission of the National Wild Trade Federation, you and I have talked about this extensively, is it hasn't been more important right now than it has been in 50 years and because of the issues that, that the animal was facing and, the pressure, from legislators and everything, within anti-hunting legislation so that you split that mission.
But if we're talking about the conservation mission, it's never been more important than it is right now in 2023. And the work that's going on. So that's really neat. I like that you that, that happens. The Wild Turkey symposium was just
Ryan Boyer: last June, right?
Paul Campbell: Correct. That's [00:09:00] every four years.
It's gonna be every three years now, just because of the issue. So every five? Yep, every five years. Okay. So they And they're dropping it. Yeah. They're dropping it against a four now. Just
Ryan Boyer: because of we had a delay because of Covid with the last symposium. And so it was supposed to be ho.
Hosted in 2020. But we'd hosted it last June with with support from North Carolina down there. But yeah, they're. They're gonna bump it up to not wait another five years from this one. Just because there, there is so much interest right now in the future and status and trends of wild turkeys and research associated with disease and harvest and hunter effort.
And, brute survival. The list goes on and on. Like you said we're a unique situation. And a challenging one in a lot of places across the country that are seen pretty precipitous declines in wild Turkey abundance. The need and the importance of the role of science which is critical to our mission delivery as a science-based conservation organization but working really closely with some of the leading researchers dr. Chamberlain, Dr. Collier they're graduate [00:10:00] students and helping provide support for research to our state agencies where we can to help address some of these questions and get at what what may be impacting wild Turkey populations. Yeah,
Paul Campbell: I think, one, one thing, just as a Turkey hunter in the last year, I knew.
Everyone knows there's an issue with population declines and not I don't wanna say issue. I don't wanna say challenge. There's a challenge with population declines and a lot of portions of the country. And here in Ohio where I'm at, we, we dropped our bag limit from two turkeys in the spring to one Turkey in the spring.
And it was really as a preventative measure and just let's just let's. Limit the impact that hunters have and let's figure out what's going on. So I really like that there are a lot of really smart people, passionate people that have like a laser focus on figuring out the issues that we have.
As I travel across the country, I have this giant target on my back because I work for the National Water Turkey Federation and as to you. So that's the first thing. A lot of times the first question where are all the turkeys? And so you and I have talked a lot. I've talked to a lot of people, a lot of biologists.
I like to understand, [00:11:00] I like to hear what you guys have to say. And when I say you guys, people that have their hands literally in the dirt about learning and not trying to understand, what the issues are. And I try to I take that and I condense it down into someone like me who was just an idiot.
When it comes to that stuff, and I feel like I bother you all the time, I'm like, Ryan, what does this mean? And and you've been very gracious with your time about helping me understand, this really complex issue that we have of Wild Turkey population decline. So talk about that. And this interview's live, man I, I.
This is great. This was the conversation, I wanna put this in to this podcast. What, so what, just from like your perspective, what are some of the issues or the causes for wild Turkey population decline and in this
Ryan Boyer: country I. Yeah, so that's a great question. Un unfortunately there's not a simple and straightforward answer.
There's not a silver bullet, right? That's gonna lend itself to hey, if we do this or pull this lever that's gonna result in, in, in a change in wild Turkey populations. But I think you have to step back from it. And look at it from a [00:12:00] broader perspective.
For instance, any, anytime you restore wildlife population, generally there's a really boom, right? There's an increase in their population to a point where it reaches a caring capacity, and then you see it come down slightly. And then generally there's some fluctuations there after it's hit that upper threshold or it goes ups and down.
Those ups and downs as it's trying to establish based on a bunch of different environmental and biological factors. And for the most part, post restoration with wild turkeys, from a lot of states' perspectives that we're in that post peak era right now where some fluctuations we're seeing in wild Turkey populations.
But, a lot of the best available research that w that was out there when state agencies were starting to see more robust populations, huntable populations, wild turkeys in their states. They were using the science that had come from an era during the restoration phase for wild turkeys in the eighties and nineties.
And like Helium Powell, for instance, that was published in the late nineties. Recognizing that the vital rates like hen [00:13:00] survival, pulp survival, nest success are likely far different and likely higher during those periods than what we're seeing and experiencing now, especially in some of these states that are seeing more, more precipitous declines than than others.
So there's multiple factors to to consider when you're looking at that and what's causing these declines for wild Turkey population. Certainly. We've seen some significant changes in land use, right? Loss of c r p important brood habitat openings. We're seeing changes in, in the dynamics and structures of our forest with threats like non-native and invasive species overcrowding, reducing visibility and really taking and degrading what was maybe goodwill.
Turkey habitat into, subpar or not very good wild Turkey habitat. There's the ongoing threats of disease and impacts of weather, also from a regulatory standpoint and harvest, while turkeys are the only galas bird in North America that we harvest during, the coincides with the breeding season of that.
Heard and so you know [00:14:00] that I think it's created some more challenges as we're seeing some declines researchers and, scientists, biologists wanna look at that a little bit. Closer to make sure that, we state agencies can still maximize hunter opportunity without potentially jeopardizing a risk to the resource.
And we're seeing more and more growing concern with regards to the timing. Of the seasons, the initiation of the start of the season. So traditionally conservatively state agencies would set up the start of their season date with the median nest incubation initiation date. So when a majority of those hens are actively sitting on those nest and incubating eggs on those nests.
So the idea was that it would remove the chance for incidental harvest or illegal harvest of females. But also help ensure that most of those females were bred prior to the removal of the males. And a lot of states, Ohio, for instance as we've talked about a lot, Paul, to, to their credit, we're helping support an ongoing research project with them in partnership.
With Ohio State [00:15:00] University to look at that very thing and see if there's been any significant changes with the timing of those breeding season parameters to see if there's a need to shift regulations to account for those. And I think it's multifaceted, but the more we can We can assist our agency partners as well as the leading researchers across the country to address some of these things and update that information to fill in those gaps.
The more informed and more confident I think we can be especially providing recommendations or looking at changes in regulations moving forward. Un unfortunately, I don't think that there's an easy answer right now. I think it's a combination of several things. That's certainly what a lot of folks are focused in on and and willing to invest money in, including the National Wild Turkey Federation, of course.
Paul Campbell: I think human NA and I talk about this. All the time, 10 times a week. I talk about this human nature is to find something easy, right? And it could be anything in life. And so the decline of Turkey populations is no different. We want to blame [00:16:00] one thing and everyone's one thing is different.
It's the raccoon it's an owl, it's weather, it's loss of habitat. It's urban. Urban expansion, industrial expansion, with Habitat. So everyone wants to blame one thing and it's not one thing, like you said it's death by a thousand paper cuts at this point.
And it's a multitude of things. So I wanna unpack some of the statements that, that you made there. So let's define the restoration of the Wild Turkey. Brent Rogers and I, we talked about this, in, the historical perspective of the challenges that the Wild Turkey has taken.
And the path they've taken. So let's define the restoration and when that kind of came to a close and we'll just say it's done. We've, we, humans, hunters organizations, we've established turkeys in all native areas. So when was that restoration completed? I. Yeah. So
Ryan Boyer: The idea was collectively states across the country wanted to try and restore wild Turkey populations to all areas with suitable habitat.
And that's a point that, we work with. There's varying societal desires in [00:17:00] terms of maybe what. Certain group or individuals would deem as desirable levels of wild turkeys most notably in, in urban areas, for instance, like the human wildlife interaction component certainly drives the decision making and the influence a little bit different than it does in more rural areas or perspective from a consumptive hunter like ourselves versus maybe somebody that, that doesn't enjoy or participate in hunting wild turkeys.
But that being said, Yeah, turkeys were almost, nearly extricated across the country, but in, in many states were through the early 19 hundreds due to unregulated market hunting. It wasn't managed and You know that over harvests led to dramatic reductions in birds.
And then this shift in really the primary movements in the conservation history, recognizing the importance of our wildlife species and that we needed to act in order to ensure the future of them moving forward. Things put in place like the Lacy Act, for instance funding that an excise tax through Pitman Robertson and Dingle Johnson [00:18:00] Acts, and really modern.
Conservation movement developing, the seven tenets of the North American model of wildlife conservation. It was critical to the success and ultimately the success of the restoration of Wild Turkey and other, another wildlife species notably as well. But, specific to wild turkeys, there was an emphasis in the fifties and sixties, That agencies were starting to place on trying to restore wild Turkey populations and ramping up all the way really until the, the early two thousands for the most part.
By that point across the eastern United States majority of wild Turkey populations had been restored to suitable habitats at that point. Right now, currently 2020s, even 2000 tens there was very little trap and transfer work being done. But one, one example of that where there is still some being done is in East Texas right now that we're working with the state agency down there.
My counterpart, Annie Ferrell is helping work, work with the agencies and actually collecting birds in the northeastern part of the United States and moving those birds down to east Texas to help establish an [00:19:00] eastern population down there. It's. It was not something that happened overnight, but in areas when it did happen and they initiated the restoration efforts, these birds responded very quickly, very favorably.
And like I said, they were at that, that increased in that graph where reproductive rates were really high and birds were flourishing. Yeah. And now we're to the point where, we're trying to figure out what that new normal is, what that balance is where we expect populations to be and how to balance that with the societal desires and desires hunters to make sure we have sustainable populations moving forward.
Paul Campbell: Sure. Let's define what good, and we'll just stick with kind of the Eastern subspecies. East of the Mississippi, that's easy to talk about. And I think that's where a majority of the Turkey hunters reside. Let's talk about suitable habitat. Desirable habitat for one wild turkeys just in general.
And two, when we get into that, that really important phase of nesting and brooding. So let's start with just like desirable overall, Turkey up, upset.
Ryan Boyer: Yeah, so [00:20:00] very broadly stated, a mixture of upland, hardwoods and openings interspersed throughout what their annual home range would be.
And home range size is driven by a number of factors as well, but resource availability is an important one that helps influence that. But you think about a, maybe an average home range size of birds in Ohio or Indiana or Michigan, upper Midwest where you have. Fairly suitable habitat for those birds being one to two square miles in size.
In a mixture of mature upland hardwood forests, certainly mask producing species, hard mask species like white and red oaks or other oak species where are an important component, important factor for wild turkeys. But turkeys thankfully our generalist in terms of, they'll they're gonna take what's available in many cases for different food and are able to adapt to different habitat types and different successional stages and make the most of it.
So whether it's, Taking a avail available waste grain, for instance. If there have adjacency to some agricultural fields, whether it's seeds from [00:21:00] different grasses or wildflowers or the insects associated with those in those openings. So there's certainly different resource needs depending on the seasonality, right?
If you wanted to start in the fall, early winter, The importance, like I mentioned to that mass production is critical to help build up fat reserves and ensure that they're gonna go into those winter months in good condition. And as birds shift and move, out of the winter into springtime, food availability changes, things start warming up and looking for sipps finding access to any available seeds or other mast and grasses, SGEs, things start popping up.
Things start greening up. But females will start shifting their diet to be comprised more of insects at that point. The importance of, those the protein rich insects to help with their ag development during that critical time period and then hatch, post hatch, if if a hen's able to successfully rear One PT or more have a successful nest.
Then the importance of [00:22:00] those insects for that young bird are critical moving forward too. Something like 80 to 90% of their diet comprised of the, during those summer months and the breeding season is comprised of animal or excuse me insect and animal matter.
Yeah. So high in protein helps with that. The feather development. So they can reach that 10 to 14 day window, or they can begin to start fledging and getting up onto low hanging branches. And once they can do that, their survivability increase increases quite dramatically. They their ability to be able to evade predators, but so that their need and.
Desire for food that they consume shifts seasonally. And it's important to think about that in terms of how they might use areas of their home range based on resource availability. But what they what the biological needs for the bird are during that time of the year.
Paul Campbell: What's the incubation time for for a hen on eggs?
Ryan Boyer: On average about 28 days. 20 days when she, interesting. Yeah. Yep. Okay. It's thought of [00:23:00] sometimes as 40 days and 40 nights on average, nine to 12 eggs, assuming that a hen on her first nesting attempt were to lay 12 eggs. In terms of. With, within her reproductive system, producing about one egg every 24 hours, give or take a couple hours.
So about once a day, we can assume that if she's initiated a nest and dropped one egg, that it's likely that she may produce 11 more eggs and on the 12th day then begin actively starting to incubate that nest about 28 days later. From that assuming that the. The nest isn't deprecated or destroyed by a predator or abandoned by her that the likelihood that it hatches or one of, at least one of the eggs is viable, then would be after that.
Paul Campbell: now does a hint Turkey, does she roost in trees at night when she's nesting or does she stay on the nest
Ryan Boyer: overnight? I think that, I think it shifts generally with ground nesting birds you're gonna see an increase investment as it as they prolong with their investment [00:24:00] later in the incubation period.
But majority of the time that hens spent sit, sitting actively on those nest incubating if I she'll get up for recesses and leave to, to get What she needs during a nest break. Water and food, et cetera. But it's very minimal during that time.
Paul Campbell: If I'm walking through the woods and I kick a hint up off of her nest, that doesn't disturb her nesting process, does it?
She'll come back.
Ryan Boyer: Yeah. Likely. I they've done some research on that to assess what what constitutes this actual, displacement for a female and how much dis. Disturbances needed before you could actually disrupt that and cause her to abandon that. I think it varies on a case by case basis.
And I think it, it also depends on where she's at in the lane process versus if she's actively incubating it, like you said a lot of the research lends itself to birds placing that additional investment and it's so the further along she may be on those in, within the 40 day investment to try and.[00:25:00]
To rear brood and have a successful hatch. The harder and more challenging it may be to disrupt her or bump her off, to have her abandon that nest. Gotcha.
Paul Campbell: So what's the good brood habitat? What is, just as a land manager or someone that's, that cares about wild, what's that good nest or brood habitat that we'll listen to looking for?
Yeah, really well. Define brute habitat on the front end of that, if you would.
Ryan Boyer: Sure. So like we talked about earlier, the importance of bugs insects during that time period are critical to help with the rapid growth and development for young poles. So thinking about it in terms of open spaces that attract a lot of bugs.
So you know, the more you can do. To diversify an open area or an opening within a forested landscape or adjacent to some of these, the forest cover that they may use to, to nest along. Think about those openings in terms of how a young Turkey might use it. Oftentimes, an opening, just as an opening or say it's just, it's chock full of, even native warm season [00:26:00] grasses.
Try and get down on your knees or lay down, for instance, and try and look through that. Think about that in terms of how a young pulp might try and traverse through that and navigate through that. So you're not looking for an opening area that's so inundated with grasses and wildflowers that young PTs can't move through that.
But it's not devoid with so much vegetation that it's not gonna have, adequate Insect abundance within those open areas. That that's what I would say certainly. Trying to manage for diversity is gonna help with with insect abundance. So managing these openings through periodic mowing, prescribed fire trying to set back non-native invasive species within those areas.
But Yes. Smaller wildlife openings or openings adjacent to forested habitat that are gonna attract insects. Is what we're shooting for.
Paul Campbell: You just said periodic mowing. So if I'm a, if I'm a landowner and I've got just a field that I don't necessarily cut hay off of should I be brush hogging?
It in that first, just say mid-May [00:27:00] in the Midwest when it's really starting to flush out and grow and it's getting crazy. Or should I stay at the brush hog for a little bit?
Ryan Boyer: You have to assess it on a case by case basis. You have to step back and look at what the current site conditions are before you make a determination and determine how you're gonna manage that.
Primarily a goal or objective would be for brush hogging would be to treat some of the less desirable woody species that may be choking out those grasses and for components of those openings as opposed to just, Continually mowing an area. Certainly, you can go in and use chemical applications selectively in some units and treat the undesirable aspect of those openings effectively and keep more of the things that you want without having to mow too.
Mowing certainly a management tool. PR just like prescribed fire. Just like chemical herbicide application would be as well. And there's certain things to assess. The primary goal if I was talking to a landowner would be speak with a professional, talk to a local biologist within your area or forester if you're thinking about steps that you [00:28:00] might take to manage and see, conduct an inventory of what you do have and what you don't have.
And then think about it from a broader perspective. Think about it from a, if you. Went online and went, got onto Google Maps or OnX, and zoom out like one to two square miles within where your property is. Not all of us in the eastern United States are blessed to have access to or own an area that would encompass an annual home range for a while.
Turkeys. So think about it in terms of perspective of what your property may offer. Seasonality wise for wild turkeys at that point. And then based on what you can offer for those birds, how can you improve it based on what you have right now? Yeah, I think it's
Paul Campbell: a, it's an important topic or discussion to have the importance of landowners support and the role of private landowners in every state like Ohio here.
95% of the property in this state is owned, privately owned. And so when we talk about like impact on the landscape and what we can control, and I say we, the peop like public land, right? So you know, the N of btf, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, [00:29:00] there's such a small percentage of land that, that we can do things on.
That we can control. So I think landowners, if, even if you're not at the wild Turkey hunter never will be. If you just wanna prop up wildlife, there's a lot of things that people can do to help with that from the private landowners side. So that's an important conversation that gets looked, passed over quite often.
Ryan Boyer: Yeah it's a great point, Paul, and I mean to the point you and I. Discussed earlier about turkeys being an umbrella species and a generalist, and a lot of the work that, that you can do to benefit other species, depending on what your goal or your objective is as a landowner. If you're in it for trying to gain some timber value and determine what that is and manage your property for that.
There are management techniques and silicon cultural techniques that you can use to manage your property that are gonna benefit wild turkeys and other species. If you care about, pollinators, insects, butterflies, et cetera, the list goes on and on. There's multiple things you can do to to, to benefit those species as well and still help out the wild Turkey.
So yeah, it starts [00:30:00] with what, you know for landowners, what their goals and objectives are. And like you said, Indiana again that's 96, 90 7% privately owned Ohio mid to upper nineties as well the importance of being able to impact wildlife habitat at a broad enough scale to influence populations, you really can't have that discussion or be effective at what we do without impacting private lands.
And so that's, as a Turkey Federation, that's why we try and assist our federal partners with work in conservation delivery and private. Plans. Most notably, we've got an agreement, multi-year agreement with the nrcs and under the National Forestry Initiative. So we've got, I believe it's now 26 27 project Foresters across the country right now, helping private landowners develop forest management plans and ensure that, they're implementing practices and finding cost share for those practices to do sound conservation work.
For wild turkeys and other wildlife, depending on what their goals are. So yeah we have to be actively involved on both private and public lands.
Paul Campbell: Before we move on to the kind of the [00:31:00] next segment of this this talk, if I'm a private landowner and I want, I like what you just said, I want to get active.
I want to come up with a plan. What's a resource that I can get online and find
Ryan Boyer: Where should I start? Yeah you can go right to our website nwtf.org and find staff in your area. You can click right on our state and it'll bring up conservation staff within that area. And if we can't help you directly, we can get you in contact with an agency or a partner that can, so in some instances, I'm not the one directly facilitating the private land's work.
I may not be the one to be able to meet with the landowners and help them develop a plan, but I can initiate that process and get them in contact with the folks that help, can help provide
Paul Campbell: support for that. Yep. And you and if you're listening to this, you can reach out to me. I'll get you, I'll point you in the right direction too.
Ryan, that's what we call a softball question, so Good. Absolutely. Good job. So let's get into the, let's get into the mind of a wild Turkey. In the spring. So we've got, so let's just talk, so if I'm a Tom in this country between just say [00:32:00] mid-March to June, what is the number one thing on my mind?
Ryan Boyer: It's procreating. That's it, man.
Paul Campbell: I was like, your genetics. Yeah, that's it. Procreating. I'm like, okay. I wanna see what he's gonna say. I wanna see how he's gonna answer that. Tom, man, we're looking to breed. So what's let's talk about like the vocalizations of a wild Turkey during the spring and we'll talk about, we'll start out with the hens and we can keep this kind of high level and I think this is one of those that you could dive into a conversation.
For hours about the sounds that Durkey make and why they make it. So we'll keep it, we'll keep it we'll stay above the clouds, if you will. As a hen what are some of the vocalization? So a hen she's looking for a mate during that time. Yeah. So what is a hen saying in the woods?
Ryan Boyer: There's multiple. Different sounds and vocalizations, that, that wild turkeys are make Yeah. Throughout the year. And that those vocalizations really start when hens are incubating and on the verge of those pulses hatching from the eggs. There's [00:33:00] small and subtle CLS and vocalizations that those hens, that hens have been recorded using.
Probably the most common one would be the Yelp. That's just a, it's a. Pretty basic call that a female will. I guess I it's a lot easier to do generally when I'm doing these these types of talks with a jerky call in my mouth to, to be able to state what a Yelp is.
But It's essentially like it's a, there you go. Perfect. Yeah. Just a notification. And it's a communication from that hand, either to their pulse or during the breeding season to other birds to let them know, Hey I'm over here. This is where I'm located. And a communication piece back and forth between birds.
Generally, yeah. It's those two tones. It's, there's. There's excited Yelps that you can do at a quicker repetition, at a quicker pace that can help elicit a different response. But I'll probably get kicked by some folks on this one call, but I, I find there's, there is some overlap with Hunting [00:34:00] elk, I think you and I talked about it, between hunting elk, trying to call in elk during their breeding season versus hunting turkeys and calling in turkeys.
And some of the western hunters are adamantly opposed to the fact that there's any correlation whatsoever between the two. And listen to guys like Corey Jacobson for instance, and talking about his calling techniques and vocalizations of elk and trying to elicit a response from.
From that elk, either the response to fight or the response to breed, and the same types of techniques are used for Turkey hunters and collars and birds in the wild, eliciting that response very simply. I think sometimes we, we can make it complicated as Turkey hunters, especially if something either goes right magically or it has the opposite effect and that bird's hung up.
He's not responding. He doesn't care. Must have not liked what I said. Sometimes we try and probably anthropomorphize it or humanize it so we can relate to what those birds are saying and try and figure it out. But yeah, generally the Yelp is one of the most basic and often if [00:35:00] you know how to Yelp and you can walk in, in Turkey Woods as a brand new hunter the likelihood that you can call burden is pretty high.
Paul Campbell: sure. So one, one thing that I think a lot of new Turkey hunters don't know, and a lot of even guys have been Turkey hunting for, four, four or five seasons. So one thing that I think that a lot of new hunters don't understand and even guys that have been hunting for a couple of seasons, Ryan, is that when a, he yelps in nature, when a he yelps a gobbler gobbles that the hen is supposed to come to.
The Tom, that's how they, the turkeys wanted to work, right?
Ryan Boyer: Yeah. That's the biology of the bird. That's how they're wired. That's how they're, exploded. Le the breeding strategy for the wild Turkey is supposed to work. Now, granted the various vocalizations and the drive and desire for birds to procreate can alter that and influence it.
And as a Turkey hunter are, you're thinking about it again, trying to just very basically elicit that response, either to breed or to fight. Depending on the calls that you use or select use then [00:36:00] we're essentially reversing the biology there and trying to have that bird come to us.
And mimicking, the hen vocalizations of cl yelps pers cuts. Et cetera. So yeah, it's in that sense it's flipped on its head. So that's, and many times when you hear about birds, out displaying or they get within a certain range where they're quote unquote hung up those birds are doing exactly what the biology of the bird is.
They're how they're hardwired. And in process that, Hey I'm here. You can hear me gobbling. They're starting the morning on the roost and they're gobbling from that high point and hoping that their gobble carries to let those other females know that, Hey, I'm over here. You can come to me.
And then once they get to, within a certain distance from those females or where they think that call's coming from, then they'll start using those visual cues where they'll start strutting and displaying, spitting, spitting and drumming. And those. Those visible cues for those hens to say, Hey I'm a mate.
I'm, look at me puffing their [00:37:00] chest out and trying to be dressed to the nines as we would say, and convince those hens to, to come over. And so he can copulate with them and breed with that female and as many of the hens as they can.
Paul Campbell: So when a turkey's hung up and like you said, they're waiting they're doing something cool.
We, most of the time we don't get to see it. So what's the kind of the biological response when, if we're, if I get a Turkey hung up, is there, there's no magic call that you can throw out. To get them to come. That just doesn't exist. So what's the, what's the response that if you're working a Turkey and he's hung up and you're calling doing this, doing all these things that you do, that you only learn from experience, is he just, is it just frustration at that point that he finally comes out and checks you out?
Ryan Boyer: Yeah, I don't know if it's frustration or, if it's curiosity or maybe there's a, maybe you're eliciting more of that fight response if maybe another male has come in and began courtship behaviors and pulled her away from him too. In a lot of instances you'll hear guys say, they just go ahead, [00:38:00] try and shut up.
For a while, sit tight. Don't move. Movement can be your biggest enemy in Turkey hunting as most of us know. But yeah, if you can just try and shut up, sit still and wait 'em out. See if that curiosity will get to that bird. I've heard other Turkey hunters and folks far more well versed than I am and researchers even talk about calling to a bird.
It's responding and then, but it never shows up. And then even within a few hours, even if they go on throughout their day, hey, let's say they're hen up, they've got multiple, hes with him, they go on conduct breeding activities, and then during that, that mid-morning period, that lull or if hands will break away and begin some of their, searching for selecting an s site or dumping eggs or.
Beginning to incubate those gobbler, those birds will come back almost to that exact point where they last heard that call come from. So their, their ability to be able to hone in on those vocalizations, those noises, those sounds is incredible. Pinpoint it and triangulate it almost to an exact spot where a Turkey call had come from, [00:39:00] be it a hunter or a hen.
But yeah they're pretty reliant on the biology stating, Hey, if I hear that bird she, once I get to within that range, especially in more open areas, if you're hunting, a long field edges for instance, that can create its own challenges in and of itself, that bird's gonna try and put itself in an opportunity where it can display and be seen to attract mates but also be heard too.
It's different from being on ridge tops or open fields or in the mornings when they're on the roost to try and take full advantage of the terrain. To to carry out the sound from their goggle and attract as many females as they can. Yeah,
Paul Campbell: I remember reading. And hearing people talk about that that research that you're talking about where they had GPS turkeys and then they gave the locations to GPS hunters who were part of the study.
And then they showed where they were at and showed the movements. And it was pretty religious that those turkeys were coming back to those same spots. And now that's called cosing, right? When I see I'm a Turkey, I hear a hen, and I'm gonna go to that hen that's called
Ryan Boyer: Cosing, right?[00:40:00]
I don't know that I know that term, Paul.
Paul Campbell: I've heard people say Coors in the,
Ryan Boyer: if you hear the head in, sorry. Coursing. Yeah. No, I'm not sure.
Paul Campbell: Yeah, I don't know. Maybe that's a, maybe that's just a hunter. Maybe that's just a hunter term. They're coursing you taking the course. I don't know. I've heard a lot of people say that that's but they are really good at that.
You could have a Turkey, hundreds yard, hundreds of yards away here you, and they're gonna get there. It could be just one you call one or two times, they're gonna show up to that. Almost like you said, almost to that exact spot. That is impressive.
Ryan Boyer: Yeah and think all the factors that have to go into that sometimes to make a hunt, allow you the opportunity for a successful harvest. You call it the hunt, successful based on whatever an indivi your own individual metrics are. But in order to get that bird to commit and elicit that response, to get them into a range for you to be able to take a, an ethical shot on a bird a lot of things have to go right and situations change daily, change in barometric pressure.
The amount of vocalizations that you hear, that the number of two year old gobbler, which are [00:41:00] predominantly the ones. The most vocal that you're apt to hear the makeup of that and the density of two year olds. It's all gonna impact the, your potential for harvesting success and what you deem as a successful hunt too.
Yeah, a lot of things have to go right. And sometimes you have to flip the script based on. The way those birds are hardwired and try and get 'em in to, to come in to range. So that's what makes it fun, man. It's that It is, it's a chess
Paul Campbell: match. Yep, it is. So let's just really.
Wrap this up and bring it together with the language of the Turkey Klux and Purs, we mentioned those. What is a pur and I don't mean like it it's literally it's a Turkey purring. Okay. So everyone's heard of cat pur, that's what it is. But what is the, why are they doing that?
Ryan Boyer: Generally, pers are associated with not a fighting per for instance, but if you hear hen Per or Ptz it's like a. I guess best way to describe is maybe like a rolling really soft call that for me anyway, it's associated with contentment and generally you'll hear hens and poles do that, especially when they're [00:42:00] bugging or feeding in a small opening.
If you listen really closely, you'll hear some really soft, subtle vocalizations be mixed in. Periodically you'll hear a cluck. But it's really low, it's really soft. And generally it's it's something that as a Turkey hunter I would use maybe to to, to reassure a gobbler that, Hey, all is great over here.
Or, man these bugs are delicious. The, really enjoying, really happy where I'm at. No, no concern. For. Any, anything related to nearby predators, et cetera. Every, everything's good over here. Come on over and take a look.
Paul Campbell: Good vibes, man. That's what that means, right?
Good vibes in the Turkey. Exactly. So what's, check it out. Whats, it's great. What's a shock? Gobble.
Ryan Boyer: Essentially when a bird re responds to a sudden noise, something along the same lines of a similar frequency or pitch that bird hears it's likely to elicit a response from turkeys and get 'em to gobble. It's something you can use. Yeah I've heard, I've been on a [00:43:00] golf course teed off and heard a bird respond to that gol slam the car door a crow call for instance, or affiliated woodpecker an owl who in the morning or mid mornings try and get the bird to respond and give away its location is a shock gobble.
So trying to, get a mail bird to gobble using maybe unconventional or non urky vocalizations. Just give away your location, Tommy. That's all we need. We just need your location. Then we can come up with a plan to try and get into your living room.
Paul Campbell: Yep. Now, volume, do I need to call loud all the time?
Ryan Boyer: Yes. As loud and as much as,
Paul Campbell: yeah. If everyone in the Turkey woods started calling as loud and as often as they could, the populations would explode, right?
Ryan Boyer: Yes. You would kill, you would see a Turkey. It's all I take a look at it. Each hunt is different. Each bird you call it, you kill for, or you know what, whatever the situation, try and react.
You're calling frequency and your volume based on your communication with that bird, how far away are they? [00:44:00] And also keep in the back of your mind too, that just because you may be. Hearing vocalization from a bird that's, a half a mile away, there may be other birds that are closer too.
So try and read a situation when you're in it and you, I think the really only way that you do that is years and years of experience. And especially things may be going the wrong way or the other way, but think about it as a conversation. You think about, like if you're, you've got toddlers at home and you're just hearing, yelling and screaming, throughout the entire day when the kids go to bed, they like what's gonna draw your attention and react?
It's gonna be more soft, subtle tones. Maybe it's something else. Or the fridge opening to, to grab a cold beer. And as from a gobbler's perspective, maybe how can you change that up and offer them something that, that they may or may. May not want to hear. So there's a time to be loud, time to be soft.
When you're hunting heavily pressured birds, for instance, that that would be The example I was given in terms of maybe hearing a lot of calling or a lot of loud calling, you might not be as responsive to that versus hearing something more soft and subtle. So[00:45:00] I personally, I shift my techniques based on the feedback I'm getting from the birds on that specific hunt.
And then I'll shift as I, depending on where I'm hunting, if I know I'm hunting public land and hunting pressured birds, I'll go about things differently if I'm hunting more sec secluded or timbered forest tracks, for instance, versus, open ag fields and in more open areas where they're gonna be more reliant on site.
I think about how I'm gonna use a combination of my tools, my calling or andand or decoys and set up differently. And then, I think you can't really undersell the importance of the non Turkey vocalizations. For instance, you talked about the shock gobel and the use of that just.
That, not the overuse, but the use of it to be able to locate that bird once or twice in terms of where it's at, and then put yourself, move into a position or safely get into a position. Where you think you can increase your chance of calling that burden. But sometimes those those auditory cues that are non nonverbal per se or non, not a Turkey call, like scratching really softly if you can get [00:46:00] away with a little movement with your hand down by your legs and just scratching in the leaves and making a you, that sometimes has worked for me in the past to, to get a bird.
That extra five, 10 yards, something that's not a, perhaps a common call that these birds have heard. So just try and think about it from a few different perspectives and see what works.
Paul Campbell: I like to end these conversations with the question 60 seconds or less.
What's your best advice for a Turkey hunter? And I feel like that was it. That's do you have anything else that's better than that advice? That was great. What's six, six seconds less? What's the best advice you got for a truck hunter? Boom. That's it. 60
Ryan Boyer: seconds. Yeah. That's it.
That, and sitting still. Which can be the hardest thing to do, especially if they're non vocal, that can be a big challenge. But since I've been busted and I, those have been hard learned experiences and frustrating when when you think all things are going wrong, but they're just not going out, maybe you visit in your mind.
Yeah. I Good. I was just say hopefully, those are some tools I've learned along the ways in 20 some years of Turkey hunting that have [00:47:00] gone wrong and gone Right sometimes. So
Paul Campbell: a person could Turkey hunt for a million years, a million springs, and 1,000,001, you're still gonna be busting turkeys.
That's just part of it, man, because I don't think, I don't think a Turkey hunter can learn. Enough. I don't think there's, it is possible to be disciplined enough to not scare turkeys. It's just how it is, man. You're always gonna
Ryan Boyer: do it. And I think that's what makes it so great and I think that's why so many people like to do it.
It's no different than life. We learn so much more through our failures than we, we do generally through our successes and the more opportunities you have, time, spend time in the woods, like that's a great problem to have. And regardless of how the outcome of whether or not you're hauling back a bird or not you, if you're out there, you pay attention.
You listen and you get engaged in that conversation with Turkeys, man it's, it can be a an addiction for many of us that, that know and hopefully more into the future.
Paul Campbell: Yeah. Good stuff. Ryan, thank you so much for your time, man. Thanks for all the effort and energy that you put into, to your [00:48:00] job and to the work that the National Wild Turkey Federation is doing.
It's really good. It's cool to see, man. You guys do a
Ryan Boyer: great job. Thanks Paul. I appreciate the time today, man.
Paul Campbell: Anytime. Thanks bud.[00:49:00]