Turkeys are supposedly one of the dumbest of birds. Farmers of domesticated breeds have stated that the birds are so stupid that some of them drown in a rain storm as they try to drink the falling precipitation.
Hunters can’t issue an IQ test to wild turkeys, yet will quickly attest to the bird’s keen sense of hearing and eyesight. (Thank heavens they can’t smell.) But do turkeys learn? If you ambush a turkey in one location, will they avoid that spot, or if lured in by a call will they avoid that sound in the future? John Higley covers this topic well in this post from the NWTF.
The old tom gobbled at the hunter’s every yelp, but instead of sauntering into shotgun range, he stayed just out of sight and eventually drifted away. “Darn,” the hunter thought. “That old boy was toying with me just like he did the other day. That’s one smart turkey!”
Maybe so, and maybe no. Spring after spring, hunters encounter frustrating gobblers; birds that seem ripe for calling but don’t cooperate. Some of them rattle a few times on the roost, fly down and clam up for the rest of the day, leaving hunters to wonder if they did something wrong. It’s even worse when a tom continues to gobble at your pleading yelps but then hangs up and refuses to take another step. Because they’re fickle, some hunters give turkeys almost Einstein-like qualities when it comes to intelligence… [continued]
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