Sep/Oct 2012

 

 

http://nafsmokesignals.tripod.com/2012/jan-feb_issue/pictures/what.the.hell.jpg  

BUCK CONNER
Staff Writer

INTO THE WOODS

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Talking Turkey

Merriam’s (Meleagris gallapavo merriami).

 

Saw an article in the local paper about "Talk like a Turkey", how appropriate this close to the spring hunting seasons to write about our American Bird. This has to be one of most durable birds in North America still surviving after centuries of pressure from not only hunting but farming, population growth and lost natural habitat.

 

Eastern

Rio Grande

O sceola

Before European colonization of North America there were no turkeys outside the Western Hemisphere. There are only two species of turkeys in the world, and several sub-species off of them several centuries later - originally there was our familiar wild turkey in the United States and Mexico, and the smaller ocellated turkeys in subtropical lowlands of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

When the Spanish colonized Mexico, they discovered the wild turkeys kept as domestic animals by the Indians of Mexico. Archaeological evidence found in Anasazi ruins in the Four Corners region told of people of the Southwest having domesticated turkeys at least 1,300 years ago. The Spanish were intrigued by these big meaty poultry birds and shipped them to their homeland in early 1500's, along with other Native American foods that have become world dietary staples, such as tomatoes, chilies and onions.

Ocellated

Merriam’s

Gould’s

The Spaniards soon found the habits of the big bird were predictable and their liking for and being nut-eaters, making trapping them in the oak brush of the Southwest easy. Although being wary and secretive, their roosting habits made capturing them easy for these early explorers.

Today we enjoy larger flocks and more variety than our forefather’s ever dreamed of. Look at how this bird has survived over the centuries; just think Thomas Jefferson and other early fathers had a choice between this bird and the American Eagle for the National bird. We almost lost the national bird while the turkey thrived in all the varied climates and weather conditions.

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Eastern (Meleagris gallapavo silvestris)

This bird ranges the eastern half of the United States, enjoying areas of hardwood and mixed forests. Their average height of a gobbler is 4’, with body weights of 20-25 lbs.

Rio Grande (Meleagris gallapavo intermedia)

This bird ranges the central plains of the United States, enjoying areas of brushy and arid countryside’s near water sources. Their average height of a gobbler is 4’, with body weights of 17-20 lbs.

Osceola (Meleagris gallapavo osceala)

This bird ranges the Florida peninsula, enjoying areas of oaks and palmetto hammocks, swamps and flat pine wood forests. Their average height of a gobbler is 3’-4’, with body weights of 12-15 lbs.

Ocellated (Meleagris ocellata)

This bird ranges the Yucatan Peninsula, enjoying mature growth rain forests. Their average height of a gobbler is 3’-4’, with body weights of 11-13 lbs.

Merriam’s (Meleagris gallapavo merriami)

This bird ranges western mountains of the United States, enjoying mountainous ponderosa pine forest regions. Their average height of a gobbler is 3’-4’, with body weights of 16-20 lbs.

Gould’s (Meleagris gallapavo mexicana)

This bird ranges northern Mexico into small areas of the United States in Arizona and New Mexico, enjoying mountainous regions. Their average height of a gobbler is 3’-4’, with body weights of 20-22 lbs.

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Buck Conner & Kermit Trustem

Encampment - Storm Mountain CO 2006

Some of our hunting camps during the fall turkey season in Colorado can be a surprise with unexpected snow. Then the hunting camp turns into an encampment, forget turkey hunting for most part, scout for deer and elk.

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Good luck, take care.

 

 

 

Aux Aliments de Pays!

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