The Department of Natural Resources has published facts about turkeys ahead of the spring turkey hunting season. 

The season will start April 14 to May 31. Beginning in March, all spring turkey hunters can purchase a license over the counter for a specific time period.

Here are facts about turkeys you may not know:

  1. Wild turkeys inhabit most of Minnesota. Adult turkeys are about 3 feet long with a 4-foot wingspan. Males on average weight between 12 and 22 pounds and females 8 to 12 pounds.

  2. Adult males are called toms or gobblers while juveniles are called jakes. Adult females are hens and juveniles are called jennys.

  3. Both genders have a small redhead, neck, snood (the fleshy growth that hangs over the beak), and wattle (the fleshy growth that hangs beneath the chin). Males have beards that can reach 7 inches, some females may have beards as well. Males have spurs on their legs used for protection and defending territory. Males also have large tails used in courtship displays.

  4. Male feathers are mostly dark brown and black and more iridescent than females. Female feathers are more camouflaged in color to provide them with better security while on the nest or caring for their young.

  5. Male turkeys gobble to call to a hen but can make an assortment of sounds including yelps, gobbles, purrs, putts, and others. Calling can become a fun hobby and art form by itself. Females can make a purring sound.

  6. Wild turkeys mate from April to May with hens laying 10 to 12 eggs, one egg per day. The eggs will incubate for about 28 days before hatching. The young, called poults, are able to fly in about three to four weeks and will stay with their mother for up to four months.

  7. Turkeys roost in trees at night to avoid predators such as great-horned owls, eagles, coyotes and foxes. During the day they are found in fields and forests eating a diet of ferns, grasses, grain, buds, berries, insects, acorns and even frogs and snakes.

  8. A turkey’s gender can be determined from its droppings –males produce spiral-shaped poop and females’ poop is shaped like the letter J.

  9. Wild turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and fly as fast as 55 miles per hour.

For more information, visit the DNR's wild turkey hunting page on their website. 

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