People used to ask me, “What happens to wild animals when they get sick or injured?” I’d look them in the eye and say, “They die!” Invariably I’d be met with a shocked, disbelieving stare, as if they thought some divine providence would come to their rescue. Mother Nature is a very tough, unsympathetic lady. In a hard winter the young die first.
Our urban society is so far removed from the natural world that they have no concept of how desperate is the struggle to survive. A good mast crop helps, but with 18″ of snow it’s hard for turkeys to find acorns. They’ll follow deer around who have better equipment to dig out the buried gems. As it is with deer, March and even April can be the most difficult time for turkeys. Turkeys will not fly to a food source—they walk! Therefore, a late blizzard that hits already stressed birds can tip them over the edge. It was just such a thing that happened back in the late seventies or early eighties. In the western part of their range (the snow belt), the birds were all but annihilated. It took five years for them to recover!
P.S. This spring, when all else fails, try fighting purrs, or spit and drums.