Harvested jake turkey feasted on cicadas before he met a Jefferson Co. hunter

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(Photo via TWRA)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A jake turkey had been eating well thanks to emerging cicadas before a Jefferson County hunter harvested the bird on the last day of the spring turkey hunting season.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency posted about the gobbler and its crop full of cicadas to social media on Monday. Turns out, cicadas are bountiful snacks not only for copperheads, but also for foraging turkeys.

“Numerous animals will take advantage of the emerging cicadas because they’re so abundant and easy to catch including birds, rodents, snakes, frogs, lizards, fish, raccoons and opossums,” TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron said. “We suspect that even black bears will eat them if they can catch them.  

“Wild turkeys also utilize insects as a great source of protein, which is especially important to the young poults that should be hatching any time.”

Tennessee’s 2021 spring turkey hunting season (shotgun/archery) ended Sunday, May 16.

The next hunting season for the big flighty birds is happening in the fall: Sept. 25-Oct. 29, Nov. 1-5 (archery); and Oct. 16-29 (shotgun). The bag limit is 1 bearded turkey per county and only in counties open to fall turkey hunting.  

By then, the cicadas – both “dog day” and periodical – will have retreated or died off for the year.

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