"To me the ultimate in wild turkey autumn hunting, which will provide the individual with more thrills and personal satisfaction, is utilizing the old fashioned dog-blind-calling techniques. It is my conviction that to harvest a wild turkey without calling the birds within shooting range is a complete waste of a resource; and the hunter unknowingly is deprived of one of nature's most exciting experiences! The skillful luring of a magnificent trophy close enough to make the ultimate choice of either pulling the trigger, or granting life to the big bird is, to me, the greatest challenge." C.H. 'Kit' Shaffer
|"The fall hunt will never be as popular as the spring, because the fall
hunt is a lot more work. In the fall, the turkey is not sitting out
there on a limb, telling the world where he is!" Larry Case
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Paintings © David Wright - permission: Gray Stone Press
Hunting starts at the autumnal Equinox since ancient times.
Wildlife fattened up in the Summer are ready for harvest.
Fall turkey hunting with dogs began with the founding of Jamestown, VA in 1607.
It's a family tradition passed down for generations (over 400 years).
Hunting turkeys in the Spring is a contemporary invention, from the 1950's (AL), 1962 (VA), to the 1980's (WI).
Archibald Rutledge and Henry Davis "thought it an abomination that people were allowed to shoot gobblers during the spring season and likened it to shooting fish in a barrel. They thought it much more sporting to bust up a group of turkeys in the fall and call them back in and hunt them by stealth than use hen calls during the mating season to bring even wary old birds running foolishly to gun." That's why today we have hunters from 8 to 80 who never hunted turkeys in the fall, because all they or their elders ever knew was spring hunting.
Turkey hunting with dogs: Keeping the tradition alive.
THIS IS A BARKING NEWS UPDATE
12/1/14 Litter Virginia turkey dog puppies.
12/15 eyes are open! New pics 12/12 & 12/17
And 1 pup left from 8/12/2014 VA litter
Garmin Astro 320 collar & TriTronics Flyway G3
Updated - Keep your dog burdock & stick-tite free
Old turkey dog photo - G. Mixon. Surprised photo - HumaneWatch.org
Caution sign © 2012 - 2014 AWTHDA
|Why are there so few turkey dogs,
what is their history, and why haven't you heard about them before?
Wild turkeys (and turkey hunters) were already scarce in Virginia by the 1620's. The wild turkey population in CT, MA and NY had declined so drastically by the 1630's, that those hunters with the knowledge of turkey dogs began to go underground. They wouldn't reveal they were turkey hunters, much less that they had a turkey hunting dog.
By 1750, the Iroquois, Carolinians, French and Virginians had hunted out the virgin Appalachians as far west as Kentucky, although Daniel Boone and the "long hunters" wrote of abundant game in Kentucky's "reserve" of the Iroquois and the Cherokee into the 1770's.
That's why the tradition of hunting with a turkey dog was little known west of the Appalachians.
By the 1800's, very few hunters knew about turkey dogs, except for those who continued to breed the prized dogs, along with their family members and close friends. Thankfully, someone saved these old lines of special dogs. And the secrets of how to train and hunt them, for the next 200+ years. Since the AWTHDA was founded in 2004, hunters and relatives have been sharing stories of these old dogs more and more.
Sculpture by John Quincy Adams Ward, Urbana, OH.
|Dog treat alert! Instead of buying toxic dog treats made in China, buy turkey necks at your grocery store ~$1.69/lb., chop them up with a hatchet into 4 pieces and give your dog a healthy treat. Place 1 neck portion per dog in plastic bags, roll in paper bag, freeze. Thaw before feeding - dogs can injure teeth on frozen turkey necks.|
← Wisconsin's Fall Gobblers - Where And How To Score.
AWTHDA hunt with Dan Small in the Wisconsin Outdoor News
Wisconsin is one of the best states for bagging a fall turkey by Dan Small
Complete story in the print edition - October 2013 Wisconsin Sportsman
In the Nov. issue of Outdoor Life - Fall Flushers by Michael Pearce
Ontario, Canada opening day for Meagan, Lady and Turk (pic on right) →
Dogging it for Turkey in Ontario and New York by Jeff Helsdon
ďThe way you treat your dog in this life determines your place in heavenĒ. Chukchi, Arctic.
Dogs helped the Gauchos of Argentina hunt wild horses and cattle since the 1700's.
The Kazakhs of Mongolia hunt with eagle wings.
The Goroka of Papua New Guinea adorn themselves with bird feathers.
Before They Pass Away by Jimmy Nelson, 408 pages.
writers that explain why we love fall turkey hunting with dogs.
Steve Hickoff is one. Read the Fall and Winter Turkey Hunter's Handbook by Steve Hickoff.
Read his contributions to Outdoor Life, in the StrutZone.
Modern Methods of Fall Turkey Dogging by Steve Hickoff
Painting © David Wright - permission: Gray Stone Press
Fall and winter turkey hunting with your dog is an American tradition, and part of our nation's outdoor heritage. Americans have pursued wild turkeys in the fall and winter with their dog since colonial times. It has a much, much longer tradition than the spring turkey hunting that we know today (Montana, Nebraska, Utah, Tennessee, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario allow the use of a dog to hunt turkey in the spring). By 1900 the wild turkey had been nearly exterminated nation-wide. This was due to the pioneers and the market hunters, plus the wide-spread habitat destruction - cutting the forests and clearing the land.
Beginning in the 1950's, our state game departments restored the wild turkey by trapping and transplanting native birds, through the sportsmen-funded Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act also known as Pittman-Robertson. They began a spring 'gobbler only' season, because in the spring it's easier to distinguish the gobblers from the hens, and to prevent shooting the hens they had just transplanted. By 1966, the restoration was declared 'broadly successful'. The Wild Turkey: Its History and Domestication; A.W. Schorger, Univ. of OK Press. By 1967, The Wildlife Society declared it 'spectacularly successful' nationwide. Photo Copyright Jack Paluh
..............................................The wild turkey has since proliferated throughout its original range and beyond. Once again we're able to enjoy the traditional fall and winter hunt with our dog. 'The fat of the wild turkey is spread throughout the flesh of the wild bird and renders it considerably more savory. And the best time to hunt them is in the fall and winter.'The Wild Turkey: Its History and Domestication; A.W. Schorger
Since discovering that turkeys respond to calls that sound like a rusty barn door hinge, spring and fall turkey hunters have combined their love of dogs, and the call making craft. In spring, hunters might lure love-sick gobblers with a simple cluck or hen yelp. During the fall and winter hunt, good calls are as important as a good dog, especially the keekee, yelp and gobble.
Durk Stark contributed the center picture below of his traditional wingbone calls. Each feather and matching wingbone call is from a sub-species of the wild turkey, and the drawing on each bone depicts that particular sub-species' feather.
While some hunters wait in ambush, shoot flushing birds, or conduct drives, by far the most exciting method is scattering the flock with a well trained dog, and then calling a turkey back in. The wild turkey is capable of out-running a galloping horse in a short sprint, so hunters rarely scatter flocks by running at them.
"Every fall you read the same old stories the suburban nimrods write about running toward a flock, trying to scatter them, then calling the young turkeys back. But it is silly, and dangerous, to be out in the woods running with a shotgun in your hands, trying to alarm and break up a group of turkeys." Larry Dablemont 10/1/06
That's where a specially trained dog comes in. There's no more guarantee you'll get a bird. It's just more rewarding, watching your dog work, then trying to call the birds back in, while your dog sits quietly by your side.
"Some hunters, or rather some writers, claim that the only time the wild turkey should be hunted is in the autumn and winter, and not in the spring. I have a different idea all together, and claim that the turkey should not be hunted before November, if then, December being better... I do not believe there is any safer way of bringing a turkey to bag than by the judicious employment of a good turkey dog, and by that I mean a dog trained especially to hunt turkeys." Chas. L. Jordan, quoted in The Wild Turkey and Its Hunting by Edward A. McIlhenny, 1914. Available from Real Turkeys.
Traditional American Wild Turkey Hunting (McIlhenny) Bronze © Walter Matia
Choosing, training and hunting turkeys with a dog by Jon L. Freis - Fourth Edition, Revised March 2013. Includes Training a Turkey Dog by Parker Whedon, secrets of the old days, with contributions from 100's of turkey dog hunters. Order here.
Photos © Views of the Past
"I am intrigued by your book and found it far more than it appears - it reached deep into this hunter's soul." John Plowman
"Very informative, and entertaining too. Great book!" Keith Kharville
"Any hunter wishing to get involved with turkey dogs would do well to read it. I wished I had a reference like that when I first started working with my dogs, I could have avoided many mistakes." Gratten Hepler
"Your publication on training turkey dogs is really good and I would like more for fellow dog lovers." Carson Quarles
"The first paragraph of the book hits the nail on the head. That describes turkey dogs exactly." Ron Meek
"That book was so good I only wish it was another 200 pages long." Earl Sechrist Turkey nest photo © 2004 Patty Nagle
Become a member and get the book included, only $30.00 click here and buy #1.
The AWTHDA was founded in 2004 when hunting turkey with your dog was only allowed in 21 out of 43 states with a fall season. Today, in a large part because of our efforts, it's 28 out of 42. The new States since 2004: CT, IA, ME, MT, NH, PA, and WI. The 28 States with fall seasons, that allow dogs (2014): CA, CT, CO, HI, IA, ID, KS, KY, MD, ME, MI, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV, WI, WY. The 14 States with fall seasons that don't allow dogs are in the minority. If you live in one of these, help us correct it: AL, AZ, FL, IL, IN, MA, MN, MO, MS, NM, OK, RI, SD, WA.
The 8 states without a fall season (2014): AK, AR, DE, GA, LA, NC, SC, UT
with your dog and need to know which motel or hotel chains are
PetsWelcome.com has the best listing we've found.
Concerned your dog is over-medicated with unnecessary vaccinations? The Rabies Challenge Fund is changing the rules.
The Center for Disease Control says, since 1995, there's been no reported cases of human rabies from an indigenous dog.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can call the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, get recipes at Jennie-O, or buy turkey dogs from Oscar Meyer. But for some great, natural, healthy, free range, organic, low fat, gluten free, sustainable food, grown locally, and harvested the old fashioned way, the best is a native wild turkey, from your friends and neighbors at turkeydog.org
In British Columbia, the Vancouver Sun reports that dogs are no match for the wild turkey: "Those turkeys are smart enough that they almost outrun the dogs and don't take flight until the dogs are two or three feet behind them."
Watch Keena's flush and you'll see one turkey on the left not take off until she almost caught it!
Turkeys would always rather run than fly, so it takes a good dog to get them all off the ground.
Turn up the speakers! Hit the PLAY button over and over! This is truly rare footage.
Unless you've tried it, you have no idea how hard it is to capture video like this. Keena barks at her turkeys!
Because the turkeys are so wary, and the dog is so fast, the photographer never gets near the flock.
50% of turkeys born in spring don't make it through the next winter.
Mississippi statistics show a fall harvest of 5 to 10% of the fall population is acceptable.
Now Missouri biologists say: 'the fall kill could be fifty percent of the spring kill, without compromising the population.
The spring turkey population is more dependant on bad weather and other factors, than the fall kill.'
"A mean life expectancy of 1.3 to 1.6 years, and average annual mortality rates of 76% (WV) and 60% (FL):"
The Wild Turkey: Biology and Management James G. Dickson/NWTF
"Only about 15% of the eggs laid live to become poults 2 weeks of age. Only a few birds live to be four years old."
Wild Turkey Hunting & Management by Lovett Williams
ďThe Wild Turkey is the most vocal of all birds.Ē Learn the 29 calls (in the book above): lovettwilliams.com
We're the country's number one supporter of fall turkey hunting,
and the leading organization working to allow fall turkey hunting with your dog.
If you're a fall turkey dog hunter, make a contribution. If you're a fence sitter, read this.
We are firm believers in fair chase.
Click on the IANRC logo at the right to turn in poachers.
|"The wide ranging dog that barks
isnít necessarily needed anymore, primarily because urbanization
has destroyed so much of the turkey's habitat. I used to be able to
hunt 500 acres, now itís closer to 50. I have a friend who's
dog didnít bark, so he used a bell, and you could tell what the dog was
doing by the sound of the bell. We believe the best dog is
the one that suits you." Ed
Morris - Charlottesville VA.
"Thank you for speaking for all of us who hunt with turkey dogs. I too live in Virginia and have hunted turkeys for 25 years. I've been fortunate to have had that 'perfect dog' that everyone looks for. My hunting partner and I had litter mates that were special. I now have a young dog that is showing promise of being very good. With the loss of land to hunt, itís getting more difficult to find places to safely release dogs without offending someone, and avoiding traffic. Iíve said many times that if dogs are no longer allowed Iíll stop hunting. Watching the dogs develop into mature hunters is like watching your children grow up. There's nothing more gratifying. I spring hunt because I can, but fall hunting with a dog is my passion." Edward McDonald - VA
breeds of dogs are used to hunt turkeys. Most have primarily bird dog
ancestry, sometimes mixed with a cur, feist, terrier or hound (for
their barking traits). A lot of mixed breed dogs make excellent turkey
dogs. Take the motley mongrel 'Jack' for example (in a different
application); the best leader of 156 dogs, who broke trail for 1300 of
the 1400 miles Admiral Byrd made on his Antarctic Expedition in A
Dog's History of America.
website honors these dedicated hunters loyal companions
and their pursuit of the grandest of all game birds.
Jordan Tribute Call copyright Durk Stark. The dog scattering the turkeys photos courtesy Chris Dorsey & Howard L. Harlan.
The vintage box call with the hunter, a dog and a turkey was used by Simon Everitt about 1915, courtesy Jim Casada.
Many of the photographs throughout this site compliments of Monte Loomis Wildlife Photography© Monte's Wild Turkey photo book
"Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends." Alexander Pope
of authentic wild turkey calls recorded in the fall and winter
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WE HUNT TURKEYS - ONE BARK AT A TIME
Website address: http://www.turkeydog.org/
This website began May 30, 2004, last revised December 17, 2014.
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