Challenging Wild Turkey Senses


Wild turkeys are not native to BC, but over the past century or so they have been introduced, with limited success, to many parts of the province. Currently, region 4 (Kootenays) supports the strongest turkey populations, where the average hunter harvest (2016 to 2020) was 620 turkeys annually, and that harvest is trending up. Over the same time period, hunters in region 8 (Okanagan) took about 10 per cent of that number.

Turkey. Illustration by Cory Proulx.
Illustration by Cory Proulx.

With both spring and fall open seasons in regions 4 and 8, as well as LEH hunts in region 4 in December for a wild Christmas turkey, there are opportunities for all BC hunters. But this is not a gift hunt. To be successful, a turkey hunter needs to know what makes hunting these birds a challenge.

To start with, wild turkeys are big and tasty, and popular with a long list of predators, from cougars and coyotes to eagles and owls. So, they learn very early in life to be constantly alert and to run or fly away at the least sign of danger, and that includes humans. The good news is that of the five senses, only two are important for turkey hunters to overcome, but the bad news is that with wild turkeys, those two senses, sight and hearing, make a very effective early warning system.

Turkeys can see very well. A turkey’s eyes are located on the sides of their head and that gives them about 300 degrees of view. With their head stationary, there is a small blind spot directly behind, but with a slight head movement, that is also covered. They can apparently see in full colour and their eyes are particularly sensitive to motion. I read that at 100 metres, turkeys can spot a movement as subtle a hunter blinking his eyes. That is probably hyperbole, but it gets the point across. Turkeys can also see things we can’t, such as the ultraviolet end of the light spectrum. The phosphates in laundry soap that enhance the colours of our clothes unfortunately also make us hunters extra visible to a bird that can see UV light. Fortunately, there are limits even to wild turkey vision. With their eyes placed on the sides of their head, their sight is monocular (compared a human’s binocular vision with our eyes in front) and so they have poor distance perception. They see you, but they’re not sure how far away you are.

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If you are in camo and stay perfectly still, a wild turkey may walk up to you in response to your call, and that brings us to turkey hearing. Turkeys will come to artificial calls if done correctly, but there are a lot of calls to know. Turkeys cluck, purr, putt, yelp, cackle, cutt, keekee and, of course, gobble. They make such a variety of sounds that a sense of hearing must be important. Most mammals have cuplike external ears to help gather sound, but while there are a lot of things hanging off a turkey’s head, none look like ears. The only external ear feature is a hole just behind and below their eyes, which is the entrance to the ear canal. The ear holes are covered with fine feathers that cut down on wind noise yet allow sound waves to pass through. Without the external ear parts to enhance the sound from one direction, turkeys hear sounds from all around them. With their head separating their ears, the difference in the volume in each ear helps determine the direction of a sound. This system is remarkably precise and they can turn their head to look toward whatever made an unfamiliar sound. Uh oh, busted! Turkeys can hear possibly four times better than us humans. So, for new turkey hunters, it is critical to wear camo, be still and be quiet, but thanks to a turkey’s poor sense of smell it is less important to have had a morning shower.

Turkey hunting is still quite localized in BC, but in the US, with millions of these birds, turkey hunting is a passion. There are many articles, websites and workshops dedicated to learning turkey hunting techniques, as well as a bewildering array of devices designed to mimic turkey calls and lure them into shotgun range. As wild turkeys expand their range in BC, more hunters will rise to the challenge. However, hunters be forewarned, there is a high risk of addiction to turkey hunting.

See also  .30-06 Springfield for Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the .30-06 Springfield a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for grizzly or brown bear hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .30-06 Springfield is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the grizzly or brown bear, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the grizzly or brown bear in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop .30-06 Springfield Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a grizzly or brown bear in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .30-06 Springfield within the ideal range of suitable calibers for grizzly or brown bear hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the .30-06 Springfield is A GOOD CHOICE for grizzly or brown bear hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber .30-06 Springfield Animal Species Grizzly Or Brown Bear Muzzle Energy 2920 foot-pounds Animal Weight 595 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a .30-06 Springfield? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .30-06 Springfield round is approximately 2920 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear is approximately 595 lbs. [Click Here to Shop .30-06 Springfield Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in grizzly or brown bear hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for grizzly or brown bear to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .30-06 Springfield. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the grizzly or brown bear being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .30-06 Springfield is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear - and to this question, the response again is yes, the .30-06 Springfield is A GOOD CHOICE for grizzly or brown bear hunting. [Click Here to Shop .30-06 Springfield Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting grizzly or brown bear to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. 1 Comments An - May 23, 2023I’d hunt anything big with an 06’. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>