Do you hunt turkey? Are you new to hunting turkey or a seasoned pro? Either way, it’s good to know all about turkeys and what they eat. If you know what turkeys search for, food-wise, that can help lead you to where the turkeys feed!
Turkeys are omnivores, which means they eat foods of both plant and animal origin. They tend to stick with key food staples, and now you’ll know which ones those are…
First, there’s mast, which is the botanical name for the nuts, seeds, buds or fruits of trees and shrubs that get eaten by wildlife such as turkeys. There’s hard mast, which includes hard nuts and seeds such as acorns, beechnuts and chestnuts, and there’s soft mast, which includes crabapples, black cherries, wild grapes and blueberries.
Next, there’s wild (native) grasses. Turkeys will likely forage on grass seeds and/or the first tender green shoots of a season. Young turkeys will often live in grassland environments which provide security cover as well as an available food source. Grasses can include big/little bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, blue gamma grass and others.
Thirdly, turkeys eat forbs, which are broad-leaf flowering plants that lack woody stems. You might call them weeds, but turkeys love ‘em– sunflowers, milkweed, alfalfa, ferns and wild clover are some examples.
Finally, insects and invertebrates are popular food sources for turkeys. As young poults, insects are a staple for the first few weeks of life. Older turkeys eat insects in order to obtain both protein and water. Grasshoppers, caterpillars, snails, beetles, worms and even crayfish and tadpoles are some examples of what crawling-type things turkeys will consume.
The more you know about what turkeys like, the better hunter you can be! And if you want to hunt turkey, Tioga Ranch in Pennsylvania is the place to do so– call 570-835-5341 to plan your hunt or visit this page.