Inside the Appetite of a Wild Turkey


In a world where we are increasingly more concerned with the things we put in our bodies, it is also interesting to see what is being consumed by the game animals we eat. Not only do the food items ingested and absorbed by these animals ultimately go on to affect us, but knowing what is on their menu can help us entice them to pay our hunting grounds a visit.

Take for instance the wild turkey. With spring turkey hunting open in some parts of the South, and seasons set to open soon throughout much of the United States, you might be wondering what is currently pleasing the palate of the turkey that will later be placed on your table. A photo (above) shared on the Missouri Department of Conversation Facebook page gives us a glimpse into food that is tasty to a wild turkey.

By dissecting the crop of a mature hen, MDOC was able to collect and analyze food stored for later digestion. Inside they found corn, grasshoppers, spiders, seeds, and more, with most insects clearly swallowed whole. While this hen’s diet is fairly well-rounded, a second photo (below) shows the crop contents of a juvenile turkey from the same area. This younger bird is dining on a less diverse diet heavily consisting of corn with fewer bugs on the menu.

MDOC Turkey 2 7-15-16

Seeing examples of a turkey’s preferred dinner choices can help us focus our hunting efforts on prime feeding locations, and also help us when it comes to planting food plots specifically for wild turkeys. Good luck this turkey season. And remember . . . find the food, and the turkeys will be there, too!

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