Bow hunters still have time to get a turkey for Thanksgiving

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 file photo, baby turkeys stand in a poult barn near Waco, Texas. Just a week before Thanksgiving when 46 million turkeys will be eaten, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been petitioned to require more humane treatment for turkeys, chickens and ducks as they're sent to slaughter. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

The wild turkey population in Connecticut remains stable, according to data from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) 2016 Connecticut Wild Turkey Program Report.

There are minor changes in population each year caused by weather and predators, but the population has remained mostly stable for the last 10 years, according to the DEEP report.

The entire population of eastern wild turkeys, the Meleagris gallopavo silvestris, was wiped out in Connecticut in the 1800s, said Christopher Elphick, a professor in the Center for Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Connecticut. People brought them back into the state in the 1950s and today they are common across Connecticut, Elphick said.

“The largest flock I’ve seen in the Storrs area had 160 birds in it. One of the best places to see them around campus is the big corn field by (W Lot),” Elphick said.

The abundance of wild turkeys provides people with an opportunity to sustainably hunt them, according to the DEEP report.

Connecticut’s turkey hunting season is in both the spring and fall, according to the DEEP website.

Firearm hunting season began and ended in October but bowhunting on state-owned bowhunting areas and privately owned land is still open, according to the DEEP website. The season stretches from Sept. 15 to Dec. 30.

Fall season bowhunters must have a Small Game and Deer Archery Permit and Resident Game Bird Conservation Stamp, according to the DEEP website. Unlike deer hunting, the use of bait, electronic calling devices, live decoys or animals is not allowed for turkey hunting. All kills must be reported within the next 24 hours, according to the DEEP website.

Turkeys normally thrive in areas that are undisturbed by humans but some turkeys have learned to live well in areas where lots of people live, according to the DEEP website.

Turkeys are more likely to be aggressive towards people during the spring because that’s when their mating season is, Elphick said.

Most of the cases of people being attacked by turkeys are can be contributed to hormones, Elphick said.

“Most of the media stories we hear about turkeys attacking cars or chasing people, probably involve misdirected attacks by birds just trying to defend their space or make a case that they’d make a good mate,” Elphick said. “The bottom line is probably just that hormones can make you stupid.”


Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.hampton@uconn.edu.