A society can only value what it understands. And with wildlife, understanding is only the beginning. People must find a way to appreciate wild animals enough to care whether or not they exist. Throughout decades of research, time spent in the field from Canada to California to seemingly every corner of my home state of Texas, I have come to a conclusion. No creature in North America is linked more to healthy forests than the wild turkey. And no creature has the potential to captivate people in all corners of the nation than these great birds.
Whether they are the striking Rio Grandes in the Texas Hill Country, Eastern turkeys in the big woods of the Northeast, Oceloas in Florida’s swamps, Merriam’s in mountain forests of the West or Gould’s in the high deserts, turkeys desperately need healthy habitat.
All animals do of course but some have done a much better of adapting to mans’ meddling of forest management, invasive exotics and urban sprawl.
And while there are urban centers where turkeys have adjusted, for the most part unlike whitetail deer and coyotes, turkeys need primo habitat to thrive.
If we can make the woods better for turkeys, it will be better for deer and the threatened Louisiana pine snake and the gopher tortoise and a host of other native wildlife desperately needing healthy ecosystems.
The National Wild Turkey Federation and various state fish and game departments have done an incredible job of turkey restoration and enhancement but they need the public’s help.
I have begun a quest to capture quality photographs of Rio Grande, Merriam’s, Eastern and Oceola in 2019.
Hunters call this quest the Grand Slam and while I will be taking a hunt or two this year, this quest is to document with a camera these great birds and to log everything discovered along the way.
I live a stone’s throw from Louisiana and a friend recently sent photos of eastern turkeys near their home.
This inspired me to look more at Louisiana’s turkey population.
As of now it sits at 60,000 but that is down from a historic high of as many as 1,000,000 birds.
Digging into these types of stories is what this is all about it. I’m calling it the Turkey Revolution and it will encompass years of research, reaching out to the public via many media platforms and searching out stories in the field.
If you have an interesting observation on wild turkeys, perhaps see a rare color phase bird or have anything related to them to share email me at [email protected].
Founding father Benjamin Franklin famously opined that the wild turkey would make a better representative of America than the bald eagle.
After all eagles are scavengers he said!
While I can’t see an image of the gobbling turkey intimidating America’s enemies, I can see the story of these great birds move the hearts of the public toward wanting healthier forests and more abundant wildlife of all types.
Putting a gobbler on a flag might have been a terrible way to cap the Revolutionary War but for a Turkey Revolution that might actually be pretty cool.
Chester Moore, Jr.