Big Bird(s) Encounter
I heard them when I turned off the ATV. At first I thought it was a deer walking through the woods. I soon realized it was a big bird raking leaves. I was about 150 feet away. I quietly stepped off and began walking towards them. Once I approached, they stopped, looked at me and started inching towards me. They seemed to be scouring the ground for something to eat. They walked within 25 feet or so of me.
Wild Turkeys Face Uncertain Future
The eastern wild turkey population remains somewhat unstable in Arkansas and the future of turkey hunting remains unknown. According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the turkey population in 2016 is down from 2015 even after a successful hunting season. What makes my wild turkey encounter more interesting is that the population for these birds in many east Arkansas counties can be counted in the hundreds or less.
These birds didn't seem to mind me being there. In fact, they almost seemed domesticated as I approached in my bright red shirt and hat. I spoke to a neighbor of the property and he told me he and others have been watching these hens and a flock of gobblers. He was also very protective of them knowing the unstable population.
To learn more about Arkansas' wild turkeys:
Arkansas Turkey Forecast 2016 (From AGFC)
Strategic Wild Turkey Management Program (From AGFC) (Opens .pdf)