2018-11-07 / Farm & Ranch

Fall turkeys within range for hunters

by Gary Joiner
TFB Radio Network Manager

The fall turkey season isn’t as prolific in Texas as it once was, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to take a bird during the fall hunting season that opens Nov. 3 across the state.

In the mid-1980s, there were about 150,000-200,000 fall turkey hunters in the state.

Today, that number is closer to 50,000, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Turkey Program Leader Jason Hardin.

He said the behavior patterns of Rio Grande turkeys in the fall are much different than their patterns in the spring. Rio Grandes are the most plentiful turkey species in the state with an estimated population of 500,000-600,000 birds.

“During the spring, you’ll see those birds really spread out across the landscape. A lot of places that won't have them in the winter will have them in the spring. But in the winter, those birds are going to be really concentrated on their winter roost sites,” Hardin said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. “We’re talking about those riparian areas with the biggest trees where they look to congregate in large groups.”

He noted in some areas that might mean a group of 30-50 birds. In some areas, such as the Rolling Plains, where turkeys are limited on roosting habitat, that can be several hundred birds that go to the same roost night after night.

“Hunters can really concentrate on those birds if they have those historic roosting sites, because they’re not going to be spread across the landscape like what you’d see in the spring and summer,” Hardin said.

A flock of fall turkeys may not be as popular with some deer hunters. Hardin said it depends on your perspective.

“I get a lot of hunters who really love to see turkeys, and there are some who are out deer hunting and chasing a specific animal and get pretty frustrated whenever the turkeys come running in. Because a big group of 20-pound black blobs can really scare off quite a few deer at times,” he said. “If you have them, it’s a great resource and one of our best resources here in the state.”

Hunters of Eastern turkeys in East Texas are reminded to report their harvest to TPWD on the My Texas Hunt Harvest app.

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