There's nothing better than watching a bird dog work our native wild grouse, woodcock, or a covey of quail. Much of that action occurs within 50 yards. Then there's the wild turkey. A wild turkey would rather run than fly. Turkeys don't fear dogs they can see, they can outrun most of them. For those fast dogs they can't outrun, they fly up into the trees. Hens with poults are quick to give the command for everyone to fly early in September. By November, the poults make their own decisions. When turkeys see a dog or a hunter enter the woods, they back off 100 to 150 yards and watch from a distance. A dog has to literally fly, to get every one in the flock to flush. When a turkey can't outrun the dog, they finally fly, but not until the dog is about to catch their tail.
Once the dog smells or sees a turkey, that's just the beginning. A dog has to locate the flock with all six senses, using their eyes, ears, nose, brain and intuition, to pressure every single bird in the flock fast enough to force them to fly. The dog quickly makes a lot of decisions, regarding the intensity of the scent, the distance, the speed, obstructions and direction. Possibly for each bird, for the next hour, until every bird flies. If the dog leaves one turkey on the ground, the hunter's calls might be futile, for the turkeys in the trees will ignore the hunter's calls and fly down to the real bird instead, ruining all of the dog's hard work and the hunter's efforts.
One essential difference between other upland bird dogs and turkey hunting dogs is; they enthusiastically bark on a hot track and especially on a flush. A dog barking on a flock of wild turkeys flushing is something to see and hear. The dog is loud and the birds are big, strong and fast (and they're the only upland bird that can be called back to the gun). Sight hounds have the Greyhound. Scent hounds have the Bloodhound. Terriers have the Airedales and Jagdterriers. The sporting group has the Turkey Dogs. There's bird dogs, then there's Turkey Dogs. Meet the rarest bird dogs in the country, hunting the grandest of all game birds:
God made the world round, so turkey dogs wouldn't run over the edge.
“There are three paramount essentials in a bird dog - he must have a good nose; he must have brains to direct his nose; he must have the physical ability to carry his nose and brains around... Suppose we had bred Doughboy to Becky Broomhill and Becky should whelp six puppies... train two of them as wild turkey dogs... train two of them as shooting dogs... train two of them for the field trials...” M. D. Hart, Virginia Chief of Conservation, 9/25/1927
There's more dedicated old time breeders of exceptional turkey dogs in Virginia, than anywhere in the world.
Originally published at VirginiaWildlife.Gov - Teaming Up with Dogs for Turkeys by Bruce Ingram.
R.I.P. Carroll Gathright 1947 - 2021. Pictured with Bobby Joe in 2015.
"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies." Gene Hill
Many breeds are used for turkey, from specialized 'Appalachian' turkey dogs, to mixed breeds, with varying results. What each dog guarantees is a unique and personalized experiences for their owner. There's some things the best dogs have in common. Join the club and find out what they are.
Subscribe to the Turkey Dog News - Issued randomly a few times a year.
15,000 years ago, some wolves hung around campfires, for bones and meat scraps.
Today, in exchange for food and shelter, their descendants scatter turkeys like wolves would. Then they sit like lapdogs (Members Only).
We buy uninhibited young setters and pointers that run big (800 yards) and bark without encouragement.
If you have a young, mouthy dog that doesn't want to hold point, they might make a great turkey dog. Top prices paid, call 920-776-1272.
a name for your dog.
"Since turkey dogs originated in Virginia and being southern reared myself, I use the Southern tradition of calling my dogs by their middle name. For convenience, they all have the same first name, so when I say: "Come, damnit", they all do.
It's especially charming to call them by their full name: Damnit Buster, Damnit Jenny, Damnit Jake, Damnit Patch or Damnit Princess. Sorta rolls off the tongue natural like. Makes a feller tear up 'n ask fer another mint julep." JW - Texas (where we name Beers after our dogs: Dammit Jim)
The traditional method is to scatter the turkeys, then call them back
in, so you have a close range, standing or walking head shot. While you
can shoot turkeys on the flush, the excitement is hearing the
majestic bird walk and talk, as he stalks your call. We try to dispatch
the royal bird with one shot to the head, because we like our birds
without one pellet in the leg, thigh or breast.
Native Pall Mall, Tennessee sharpshooter Sergeant Alvin C. York was champion of the turkey-shooting matches (they had to shoot turkeys in the head). Alvin went on to receive the Medal of Honor for his attack on a 32 gun German machine gun nest, killing 25 German soldiers, and capturing 132. Movie of the turkey shoot.
"Of course everybody was nice. But I'm a-telling you it was a tough corner for a mountain boy to be in... In the middle of that-there old banquet I got to kinder dreaming about home and the little log cabin and my mother and Gracie and them-there hound-dogs of mine. I knowed I was to be with them soon." The York Patrol - The real story of Alvin York and the unsung heroes who made him World War I's most famous soldier by James Earl Nelson.
|When cleaning your birds, look for the Turkey Oysters, those choice, flavorful, juicy little parts the French trappers and traders called sot-l'y-laisse. In German, pfaffenschnittchen.|
|Learn about these special bird dogs for
hunting wild turkey. Join the club:
Wild Turkey Dogs: Tips on Choosing, Training and Hunting. Includes 'Training a Turkey Dog' by Parker Whedon. 5th Edition, March 2018 Includes secrets of the old days and contributions from 100's of turkey dog hunters.
The breeding of the original Virginia type turkey dog has always been a well kept family secret. There's still some breeding the traditional turkey dogs, then there's others who tried different ones, in a wide variety of habitat and terrain. Join the club, read the book and find the best dog for you.
Proof dogs are smarter than people department: Dog has it's human do the work. Are dogs smarter than cats?
Do we have any Search & Rescue cats, Police-Cats, or Seeing-Eye Cats? Enough said.
They Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Around - Listen to the old time string band. This one really gets my dog worked up.
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WE HUNT TURKEYS, ONE BARK AT A TIME.