Wild Turkey Late Summer and Fall Habitat
Late summer and fall habitat is generally the least limiting of a wild turkey's needs in the Northeast. It is, however, a time that many wild turkey enthusiasts want to see wild turkeys using their land. At this time of year a turkey needs wooded areas for concealment, roosting trees, and a good food supply to ensure they go into the winter in good physical condition.
The following are suggestions for managing specific habitats for late summer and fall habitat. Remember that these are suggestions only, there are no hard and fast rules and you can decide what methods you wish to employ on your land. Assistance with soil testing or fertilizer and liming recommendations is available through your local Cooperative Extension Office.
Log landings & roads: Lime & seed to grasses, sedges (nut grasses) and clovers at the end of the logging operation. Generally these areas need mowing to control weedy invasion and re-application of fertilizer and lime and over-seeding every few years. Plant mast producing shrubs such as crab apples, hazelnut, serviceberry, dogwoods, and viburnums on the landings.
Hardwood timber: Manage for dependable mast producing species (such as oak, beech, cherry, ash, black walnut, hickory). Have a timber management plan developed in consultation with a professional forester to manage for your goals (e.g. an uninterrupted mast production and regeneration of those species). In New York State, assistance to private landowners is available through DEC's Bureau of Private Land Services. Don't forget the mid and understory mast producing species such as hop hornbeam, ironwood, hazelnut, serviceberry, dogwoods, and viburnums.
Perennial food plots and shrubs:Test soil, lime and fertilize as necessary. Plant to clovers, grasses and lower lespedeza varieties. When necessary mow in very late fall or early spring. Reseed only as necessary (every 5+ years). Plant fruit producing trees and shrubs such as apple, crab apple, hawthorn, dogwoods, viburnums, highbush cranberry, staghorn sumac, grapes. Discourage exotics like Russian olive, autumn olive and multiflora rose. Shrubs may be planted in "hedgerow" type arrangements. Trees planted in perennial food plots may be arranged on the edge of the plot that receives the most sun (preferably adjacent to the forest edge.) Trees may also be planted orchard-style with 15 to 25 foot spacing.
Annual food plots: Annual food plots should be small ½ to 5 acres. Test soil, lime and fertilize as necessary. For corn, plant at normal time and leave standing to provide food into the winter. Plant a mix of sorghum, millet, and sunflower in late spring and leave standing. Buckwheat should be planted later than normal (mid June to early July) for fall food source. Leave standing and over-seed with rye in September. Plant rye and wheat in September for a source of fall and spring food. Pure stands of sunflower should be at least ½ acre in size to protect from deer.
Crop fields: Plant and harvest grain crops such as corn or oats in the normal manner leaving some at the edges of the fields standing. Try to leave at least ten rows standing.