|100% of turkeys prefer
to be hunted in Fall, by a dog.
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|"Most places we now have a whole generation of hunters that have never fall turkey hunted and know little about it... The point I would make with all this is undoubtedly the greatest challenge in turkey hunting is pursuing wise old gobblers in the fall." Legends of the fall - Larry Case|
Turkey Dogs featured in the Sept/Oct. 2021 issue of Turkey Call magazine - pps. 54, 96, 104, 112."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
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
The Turkey Dog News - published at random
Buying a puppy (members only). Join here.
Paintings © David Wright
|← Before Spring
turkey hunting began, the traditional time to hunt
turkeys was in Fall and Winter. We still do.
Turkey dog flushing a flock.
We run these dogs once or twice a day, for 3 months in the Spring. →
|The best time to hunt turkeys is
in the fall.
The best companion is a dog.
The best places are in CT, OH, KY, MD,
NY, PA, TN, VA, WI, WV and Ontario.
The best time to make a reservation is now.
Hunting starts at the autumnal Equinox since ancient times. Wildlife fattened up in the Summer are ready for harvest. Fall turkey hunting with dogs is a family tradition for hundreds of years. Hunting turkeys in the Spring is a contemporary invention, from the 1950's (AL), 1962 (VA), to 1983 (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 9 to 99 who never hunted turkeys in the fall, because all they've ever known was spring hunting.
Turkey hunting with dogs: Keeping the tradition alive.
years ago, there were stone age people and their dogs living here,
hunting turkeys on foot by calling with their voice, using wooden bows
with sinew strings, arrowwood shafts with turkey wing feather vanes,
and stone arrowheads.
Today hunters in four wheel drives, with hyper realistic decoys and popup blinds, use a device with a Global Positioning System, showing property lines on aerial maps, receiving pictures from game cameras, using 4 different kinds of precision made calls they became proficient with by watching youtube videos, hunting with three and a half inch 12 gauge semi-automatics with custom chokes, shooting heavier than lead shot to 75 yards, who lament the decline of the wild turkey population in 17 states (AL, AR, CO, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, NJ, NY, ME, MO, PA, SC, TX, VA and WV). Photo courtesy Jack Paluh.
To justify killing the most dominant and aggressive gobblers during the mating season, researchers have examined everything from predators and habitat, to the bird's social hierarchy, flock dynamics, vegetation height, distance traveled, roost proximity, genetics, percentage of bearded hens and unbearded toms, mast production, invasive species, global warming, harvest rates and nest survival, to explain why there's less turkeys. No wonder hunters have widespread concerns about killing too many turkeys in the spring.
Turkeys are Community Oriented! Flocks have a collective intelligence that makes far greater decisions than single birds can. Male turkeys serve as perimeter security, taking pressure off the nesting hens. The bold, highly visible male turkeys intimidate every coyote, coon, crow, fox, skunk, possum, hawk, snake, turtle and wildcat in the area. Even Golden Eagles. Their calls warn all turkeys in the neighborhood of an intruder's location. Be like Jimmy.
March 2022: NWTF said the turkey population has declined 40% in New York, 50% in Missouri and 60% in Arkansas. What kills more turkeys than loss of habitat, bad weather and all the predators combined? Spring turkey hunters! Think we should stop killing so many turkeys in the Spring?
Researchers said hunting turkeys during the breeding and nesting season, and killing the best specimens when they're blinded by hormones, is detrimental to the population. Alabama reduced the spring limit from 5 to 4 (no decoys the first 10 days)! Georgia proposed going from 3 to 2, and not open the season until a few weeks later! That's still better than having to hunt them the old-fashioned way, during the traditional Fall season, when big toms don't come blindly running to hen yelps, when the vast majority get away!
|Biologists assumed all male turkeys were expendable (since the 1980's MO studies), and we could shoot 30% to 50% of the males during the nesting season, because the turkey is polygamous. Scientists now say they're a lekking species and disrupting leks prior to breeding disrupts the mating. Removing dominant males in a lekking species has consequences. Hens don't automatically breed with other males. Listen to Dr. Michael Chamberlain and Dr. Bret Collier.|
|In Wisconsin, landowners can declare coyote, fox, opossum and raccoon Nuisance Animals. With the landowner's permission, licensed trappers can eliminate nuisance animals year round. Including unprotected species like skunks and feral cats, one trapper can save hundreds of turkeys. Fill this out, give one to the landowner and carry one with you. Cites rules and regulations. Free full size Word document by request.|
THIS IS A BARKING NEWS UPDATE
Free Feather Kite plans with new Membership or Renewal.
Rob Mucinski's Gage is in the Hall of Fame.
Best pictures of the 2021 Wisconsin season.
The two things different about Turkey Dogs.
A turkey dog in Georgia 100 years ago.
1929 dogs got Santee Swamp SC birds for a Parker, VA preserve.
Parker Whedon in 1979 and 2020.
The 8 'Slams' of turkey hunting (green row near the bottom).
Think your dog is fast? These guys run down the turkeys.
Training a dog to sit while you call (Members Only).
Using Turkey Dogs in the Spring.
Old turkey dog photo - G. Mixon. Stone message - Jon Freis
Gathright Breeder of the Year Award.
Talking about the 2019 WI fall turkey hunting season with Dan Small on the radio at 22:00 on the counter, to 30:30.
Sier de Boisrondet, traveling with some of the earliest French
explorers Sieurs Robert de La Salle and Henri de Tonti (Iron
Hand), Fathers Gabriel and Zenobius, in
Kewaunee county Wisconsin in 1680, before the Pottawottamie Chief
Ononghisse saved them all.
Members can read the remarkable story of how the wild turkeys saved Le Sier de Boisrondet.
New Years Eve, this
dog flushes gobblers with ice beards in a
creek near the Mississippi.
Gun Dog mag. at newstand hunt WI turkey with dog
Drones w/FLIR save turkeys from harvesters.
Surprised photo compliments of Humane Watch - WATCH LAWYERS IN CAGES.
Take the Fall Turkey Challenge by Dan Small
November 2015 WISCONSIN SPORTSMAN magazine.
Take the Wisconsin Slam.
has a low diversity of birds in relation to it's area. It contains
endemic families, although one very small subfamily, the turkeys... has
one of it's two species - the Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo
- entirely confined to the Neartic. The other species in this subfamily
- the Ocellated Turkey, M.
ocellata - is endemic to the northern regions of the
adjacent Neotropical region."
The following explains (partly), why it's easier to kill a male turkey in the spring, than a hen turkey in the fall or winter. Also, an indication of what your dog is after. If the birds run off and are reluctant to fly, your dog is likely after a jake & gobbler gang:
"The broad, rounded wings are very large, but the ratio of body weight to wing area in males is still one of the highest of any bird. As a result, turkeys are generally reluctant to fly unless absolutely necessary. Females, however, are only half the weight of males, and do usually take to the air to escape danger." Plus new genetic research in avian olfaction suggests most birds have a good sense of smell, with some being highly developed. The World of Birds by Jonathan Elphick
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"You might want a good turkey dog to find them and stir 'em up. Then
wait about an hour... call... and back they'll come."
Members can see the whole thing
and many more old records, including Turkey Dog Ads like this one from
1925 in the Members Only pages: Members
| NY |
Recent studies say some Birds are as smart as Apes: The cognitive skills of crows, ravens and other corvids are as sophisticated as those of apes, even though they have a much smaller brain. Wild turkeys skills are close to the corvids.
|Why are there so few
turkey dogs, what is their history, and why haven't you heard about
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 400 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.
|ďI hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.Ē Emily Dickinson|
← Wisconsin's Fall Gobblers - Where And How To Score.
In the Nov. issue of Outdoor Life - Fall Flushers by Michael Pearce
Ontario, Canada opening day for Meagan, Lady and Turk →
There's a few 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.
Paintings © David Wright
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: Stories of the Hunt by 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
In 29 States and 3 Provinces, science proves hunting turkeys in the Fall and Winter makes you and your dog live longer.
Since discovering that turkeys respond to calls that sound like a Rusty Barn Door Hingeô, 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
with a dog
by Jon L. Freis - Fifth Edition, Revised March 2018.
Includes Training a Turkey Dog by Parker Whedon, secrets of the old days, with contributions from 100's of turkey dog hunters. Order here.
"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 29 out of 43. The new States since 2004: CT, IA, ME, MT, NH, PA, UT and WI. The 29 States with fall seasons, that allow dogs (2020): CA, CT, CO, HI, IA, ID, KS, KY, MD, ME, MI, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI, WY. The 14 States with fall seasons that don't allow dogs are in the minority and labelled with the OUTLAW BADGE. 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 7 states without a fall season (2020): AK, AR, DE, GA, LA, NC, SC
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 some 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
Photos © Views of the Past
Parker Whedon is a legend among turkey dog hunters, and shares 50 years of memories with us.
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, don't be a fence sitter, make a contribution.
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
- 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
|Wild turkeys can
hear a twig
crack at a quarter mile. They see movement at a half mile. They run 25
mph. I got
Take the motley mongrel 'Jack', 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.
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©
"Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends." Alexander Pope
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Members are invited to send pictures of yourself and your dog, with a short story like these:
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Permission to copy without written authorization is expressly denied.
WE HUNT TURKEYS - ONE BARK AT A TIME
This website began May 30, 2004, last revised November 16, 2022.
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