Biologist Jason Isabelle catches wild turkeys — with a rocket-net.
Q: How do you catch turkeys with a rocket-net?
A: My research crew puts out cracked corn for bait. When a flock of turkeys shows up for a free meal, we push a button and — BOOM! — three rockets take off and carry a 60-foot-long net over the turkeys.
Q: How many turkeys do you catch at once?
A: We usually get 10 to 20. I’ve caught nearly 30 before, and I’ve heard of more than 50 being caught.
Q: What do you do with the turkeys?
A: We untangle them and put each one in a cardboard box. The boxes make the turkeys feel safe. Then we record information about each turkey, bird by bird. When we take a bird out of its box, we put a sock over its head to keep it calm.
Q: What kind of information do you record?
A: We write down whether each turkey is a male or female and whether it’s a youngster or an adult. Each bird gets a leg band so we can identify it. Some of the turkeys get radio transmitters so we can track them. The information will help us learn more about the size and health of Missouri’s turkey population.
Q: Turkeys are big birds. Are they hard to handle?
A: Turkeys are fairly easy to work with. You just have to watch out for gobblers. They have sharp spurs on their legs, and they can kick.
Nichole LeClair Terrill