"The excitement of seeing a bird explode out of the underbrush... the thrill of watching a well-executed retrieve... these things never change for the true hunting enthusiast."
Guess what American adult beverage company celebrated 100 years with this advertisement depicting a turkey dog hunt in the October 1955 issue of Outdoor Life?
Hint: Brewed in Milwaukee. Click on picture to find out.
|"Dogs trained for turkey hunting are probably the happiest of all canines.|
No one expects them to stay within 50 yards, hold a point until their owner strolls over or swim through icy waters to fetch ducks bobbing atop distant waves.
No, turkey dogs are expected to freely range far and wide to search for birds, gleefully bark their heads off when finding them, and not bother trying to tote a 25-pound gobbler to anyone’s waiting hand." Patrick Durkin Maribel, WI 10/21/16
wild turkey population is the highest in the fall of the year. Half of
the turkeys born in spring aren't going to make it through their first
winter. While there's larger birds in North America (American White
Pelican, California Condor, Tundra Swans, Trumpeter Swans
and Whooping Crane), the wild turkey is the largest wild bird
commonly hunted and eaten.|
Birds are amazing animals. Consider the Bar-headed goose, who cross the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas (Mt. Everest), from India's far south to mountain lakes in Mongolia, at 5 miles up, with winds blowing at 100 mph, temperatures 30 or 40° below zero, one-fifth the oxygen at sea level, in a single day.
Or the tiny blackpoll warbler, that migrates from New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces to Venezuela, about 2,000 miles, nonstop. Or, the Arctic tern, who lives in 24 hour sunlight in the Artic in summer, then travels 12,000 miles, nonstop, to 24 hour sunlight in Antartica for the winter. More: The Wonder of Birds: What They Tell Us About Ourselves, the World, and a Better Future
"The first picture is my nephew James who I have hunted with since he was 8 or 9. He shot his first deer with me. This is his first Fall gobbler he shot right at dark, as the gobblers Maggie busted tried to get together, right before roost. It was in the National Forest in Montgomery County, VA. Maggie was proud of her part in the hunt as were we. This was her first gobbler and she was only a 1 year old!
The birds on the hay stacks - those were taken in Shenandoah County. Maggie busted a big flock in the National Forest. My friend Tom shot the first bird I called in, as Maggie sat quiet between my legs. We stayed put and I called in another bird that I missed. I'll never forget the look I got from Maggie, after all her hard work! We could hear the mother hen getting the flock back together, so I sent Maggie to bust them again. She got a second great bust. We set up again further up the mountain, towards the break site and it took a little longer this time before the birds started to talk and reassemble. I proceeded to call one back and made sure I did not miss this time. If I had I am not sure what Maggie would have done to me. At minimum bite off my shirt tail I am sure!
The last picture is my son, with his first Fall gobbler, with the help of our turkey dog Maggie! Ben is 17 now and Maggie is 5. Ben has been hunting since he was 8 and has spent his fair share chasing birds in the Fall VA mountains, but this is his first gobbler Fall or Spring, so he and I were very excited.
Maggie is also a therapist and companion for our special needs child. Due to hearing and speaking disabilities, we use hand signals. Maggie learned them too and practices strict obedience. So, when we're hunting, I can signal Maggie from across a canyon; to keep hunting and in what direction, or to come, stay or lie down. All without a training or tracking collar. This chocolate Lab is a real joy to be with all the time.
Maggie is definitely in her prime and a terror on the birds. We just need to find some people that have property and want to Fall turkey hunt, so that Maggie can hunt more!" Tom McMurray, Lorton, VA 11/28/15
Update 2/16/16 - Great time at the NWTF Nashville '16 turkey dog seminar - learned a bit more - met some great people. Most of the questions at the convention were what kind of dog hunts turkey? The seminar turned into a conversation between me and the four on stage, but mostly between Steve, JT and I, for a good 2/3 of the seminar! Even continued in the hallway afterwards - great stuff. I am guessing there were close to 200 people in the room and it seemed most were there because they knew nothing about bird doggin. Questions such as: "how do you use a dog in the spring to hunt turkey" were tendered. This led me to believe there were many that just had no idea about this sport. I answer that question based on my 30+ years of Fall turkey hunting with a dog and what I learned at the convention: Fall Turkey Hunting with a Labrador by Tom McMurray
|We used to equate the small brain size of a wild turkey to their intelligence. But recent studies say some Birds are as smart as Apes: The cognitive skills of crows, ravens and other corvids are as sophisticated as those of apes, even though they have a much smaller brain.|
|I just got a
turkey dog pup from Mr. John Byrne. His name is 'Gage' and
he will be a house dog. I'll build a kennel for him in the
spring, but when I'm home from work and in the house he
will be too. I can't wait to get him in the woods, snow is
too deep for him now. This is my first new pup in 17 yrs.
My old dog Jack died in March '08, and I was crushed for a
while. He wasn't a turkey dog, but he was a great friend
and I still miss him. Rob
Mucinski - Limerick, PA 2/17/10
|Join the club.
"Here's my dog 'Gia' as a pup, a little older, and with my first fall bird. She's a John Byrnes Appalachian Turkey Dog.
pure-bred liver and white Pointer would lay quietly in a
bag. The only Prisoner of War dog in World War II.
"Frank Williams managed to teach Judy to lie still and silent inside a rice sack. When he boarded the ship, Judy climbed into a sack and Williams slung it over his shoulder to take on board. For three hours the men were forced to stand on deck in the searing heat, and for the entire time Judy remained still and silent in the bag on Williams's back."
"My new Boytel turkey dog pup 'Heidi'. October 2007."
"Here's one of Heidi loving the snow last winter, and appropriating my couch. She's one of the best dogs I ever had."
Steve Turpin - Turpin Custom Game Calls
"I got Heidi out in the Fall turkey woods and she did pretty good for her first efforts. She busted up two different droves and I killed 4 of my 7 turkeys over her, including a smoke grey phase young gobbler. She still has a few obedience problems, like squirming too much in the excitement, and not wanting to stay seated. This cost me a few turkeys, but overall I was extremely pleased with her performance. I know she will get nothing but better, as she's only 15 months old. Since this was her first season, I only hunted with her when I was by myself. That way, she would be easier to work with and not be distracted by other hunters. I'm REALLY proud of her. Happy Thanksgiving to all." Steve 11/25/08
"Steve Turpin and his young turkey dog 'Heidi' with a couple of young gobblers that were scattered from the flock by Heidi and then called back into gun range during the Tennessee Fall turkey season. 12/14/09
Helping turkeys make BAD DECISIONS for over 100 years! © Turpin Custom Game Calls
|I'm glad to finally
find a website and information regarding fall turkey
hunting with a dog. It seems not many people in Kentucky
know anything about turkey dogs, or want to learn. I am
the only turkey dog owner/hunter I know in Kentucky. My
dog Belle is half Gordon and half English Setter, and just
turned 3 on July 4, 2007. She came to me through a turkey
dog man from Virginia. It started with a conversation with
my brothers buddy, who talked to several other guys, that
led me to these fellers in Virginia with flight pens and
everything. It took a lot of talk to convince them to sell
me a dog. They breed for black or liver color, and would
never share a word about their dogs secret pedigrees.
They're what you'd call 'old
school', if you know what I mean. If you're ever
in Central Kentucky during the fall season, look me up. Eddie
Williams - Harrodsburg, Kentucky
KY Dept of Fish and Wildlife Resources-Kentucky Afield TV host Tim Farmer joins Eddie Williams turkey hunting with dogs.
|Here's some pictures of our new turkey dog. The
name is Remington Hazelwood Jake, born 17 April 06. My
grandaughter who is 5 years old and I got brainwashed with
the wild turkey and hunting, she came up with the name of
Jake since she said boy baby turkey's are jakes. Comes
from a great line of Brittany's. Right now for only 3
months old the dog has mastered sit, lay, stay, fetch, and
is showing signs of barking at a turkey wing I saved from
the spring season. Showing a little sign of blind trailing
after I drag it in the yard and then let him out. I have
had him out back in the pastures were he sees deer and has
not showed much interest in them, seems more scared of
them right now. Earl
Sechrist - Midland, Virginia. August 6, 2006
The dog is doing well, but he is getting a little hardheaded, my wife says like his master. Started shooting the grandaughters BB gun off by him. Thanks again for the tips. Earl
started out a cold day. Left the truck it was 31. Heard
some birds about 150-200 yards from us at first light.
Took the dog on a lead towards the birds and found where
they were scratching since fly down. Put the dog on them
and again he followed for a short time and then broke off.
(since my other dog died he has not been the same, he is
only a year old and I think I ran him to much with the
other one). Anyway, the birds were headed towards a road.
I then put the lead back on him and went down and around
and hit the road. Once at the road I walked up it to get
in front of the birds. I went about 150 yards when I seen
a couple birds cross the road about 60 yards in front of
me. I turned Jake loose and he made a bee line for them.
He got over a little rise in the road and started to bark.
Turkeys all over the place and air. The first 8 birds flew
off together, the other 10 or 12 was a good scatter. I
then got the dog and set up about 20 yards in the woods.
The dog would not sit still so I took him back to the
truck, which was only about 200 yards away. Got back and
set up. 5 min. went by and I heard some key-en and
yelp-en. Started to do likewise in return. They were
answering great to the wingbone and Steve's x-trm Kee. I
had one in front of me and 2 to the left coming in Keeing
and Kalking. It was a little noisy, I could hear about 100
yards from me one of the brood hens giving the assembly
call. When the one to my front got to about 15 yards I let
him have it with Grandfathers old Fox double, Win 2 3/4",
1 1/4 oz. #4's. 9 3/4 lb. Jake. Earl
“Over the years I've had a lot of hounds. I had one redtick hound about 7 or 8 years ago that would strike turkeys from the pickup box. If I let her loose, she’d take the track and run it baying just like she was on a fox, a coyote, or a bear, up until the birds took off. Then she’d bay yet for a while, until I’d go get her. She’s deceased now, but I have one of her pups. That hound sure liked turkeys. I’ve often bred two dogs that love the same game, and of all the puppies, one prefers fox, one likes bear, one likes cat, and one likes turkey, etc. Just because the parents like one game, doesn’t guarantee the pups will. Each dog turns out to be an individual, and will prefer their own game." R.B. Sturgeon Bay, WI January 2006
Watch a video of this hen sheltering her 13 poults in the rain.
"I went grouse hunting on the public hunting grounds in Green County, WI where it backs up to Dane County with my english setter, Rebel. There was a wide field between the woods, and his first point was on a big ol' tom turkey. Reb was up on his tip-toes, and leaning ahead as if to try and see what that bird was.
At first I wondered what he had. Reb never acted like that on a pheasant or a chukar, so I knew it wasn’t that. When the bird took off and its' wings made that whoosh whoosh whoosh sound, Reb's eyes got big as saucers. After that first one I could always tell when Reb had a turkey, because he acted so different, up on his tip-toes and leaning ahead, he liked turkeys so much.
It was tempting to shoot, since I had a turkey permit in my pocket. But at that time you couldn’t be in possession of a turkey and a dog. The fourth or fifth turkey Reb pointed that day was an adult hen. When it took off she flew right into a hunter (who was not with our party) that had been standing nearby. He broke several ribs, either from the hen, when he hit the ground, or both.
Another time Reb pointed two turkeys on a field trial grounds.
I think Reb wanted to point turkeys better than anything else. He liked the helicopter-like sound of them flushing, and then he’d stand there watching them until they were out of site. Reb was one dog in ten thousand.
Reb proved that pointing dogs can point a turkey just as well as a flushing dog can flush them. I buried Reb five years ago, right where we hunt turkey every spring and fall." James Gleash - Madison. VP - WI Association of Field Trial Clubs 2006
|"I had never seen a wild turkey till I moved here, now I look for them everywhere. Sometimes I feel like the scene in Jurassic Park, where they see the dinosaur for the first time... I've had Irish Water Spaniels for 20 years and did some hunt test stuff with my first one. He had never seen a bird and at age 5 knowing nothing about bird dogs I started him myself. He turned out to be surprisingly good, and sired some good bird dogs too (as well as the foo foo show dogs). I used to do dog shows, 30 years ago, then did a little obedience and greyhound racing; now I can barely stand to watch a dog show, it's the real life use of the dog's natural ability and drive that gets my pulse racing! Thanks so much for letting me know about turkey dogs, maybe that is a future dog for me!! The other thought I have had about turkeys are their metallic colors, once I saw some in the sunshine and they looked like jewelled robots to me. When I was driving west to Minnesota along Hwy 21, west of Oshkosh, along a stretch of RR track that is up above the road, I saw what had to be about 50 of them, strung along the tracks, looking for bugs in the gravel, or maybe grit for their crop. Then a couple hours later, heading home the same way, there they still were!" Dana K. Vaughan, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Biology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh|
|The bloodhound is the only
animal in the world whose evidence is admissable in court.
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Listen to samples of authentic wild turkey calls recorded in the fall and winter woods at
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