Can Tom Turkeys Sire Young From Beyond the Grave?

Tom turkey strutting
Photo courtesy of WI Department of Natural Resources

Usually, the most dominant tom turkeys (one or two) breed with most of the hens in an area. But what if they are shot early during hunting season? Can these dominant toms sire young from beyond the grave?

Yes!  But, the hen deserves credit. Hen turkeys store and maintain the fertility of sperm for up to eight weeks! In fact, it is usually the sperm from this first mating that fertilizes the eggs, even after additional mating.

Storing sperm allows hens to wait for the best weather and habitat before laying eggs.  It’s an important reason for the wild turkey’s successful resurgence in Wisconsin.