Can Turkeys Smell?

As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I and my friends decided to go on a Turkey hunt. Laced with all the basic gear, we devised a hunting plan, however, one question that bugged us was that Can Turkeys smell? Can they trace a hunter with their sense of smell? After thorough research, I got some answers which are worth sharing this Thanksgiving.

Turkey belongs to the genus Meleagris and has two extant species the Wild turkey and Ocellated turkey. Over the years, Turkey has become a staple of Thanksgiving feast and Christmas dinner for its delicious and lean meat.

So, back to our quest, can turkey smell? Let’s elaborate on the subject to give you a better understanding.

Can Turkeys Smell?

Turkeys have a poor sense of smell which often works in the hunter’s favor. Many people fret about the fact that Turkey’s sense of smell might ruin an otherwise perfect hunt. So when tracking down a gobbler in the hunt, it is highly likely that poor Turkey is not going to sense danger. Though, Turkey has a poor sense of smell it will outsmart the hunter in many other ways.

Turkey’s Sense of Smell

According to Journals of uchicago Unlike dogs and some other animals, wild Turkeys possess a poor sense of smell. The sense of smell is associated with the olfactory lobes, located in the forepart of the brain. Turkey has a poor sense of smell because of the under-developed olfactory lobes.

Unlike Turkey, Canine has an extremely sharp sense of smell because of the highly developed olfactory lobes. Vultures, condors, and griffons are considered exceptions as they are bestowed with a sharp sense of smell.

Do Turkeys lack a sense of smell?

This saying is always linked with Turkey’s sense of smell ” If they could smell you, you’d never kill them.” Turkeys do not lack a sense of smell but it almost non-existent. Because of small under-developed olfactory lobes, many scientists believe their sense of smell to be equivalent to lacking.

Can Turkeys Smell Food Items?

Yes, They can. Even though the Turkeys have a poor sense of smell, but they can discern food items. They are capable of sensing food items through smell. Turkeys lose the bet when it comes to taste and smell. Turkeys do not have a well-developed sense of taste and smell they mostly rely on their incredible vision and hearing.

Can Turkeys locate food using the Olfactory gland?

Even though it is said that Turkeys have a poor sense of smell and taste, which leads to another question of how do they select only certain types of seeds, fruit, and suet from the feed? That can be explained by the fact that they do have a sense of smell and taste even if it’s poor, the Olfactory glands are sufficient enough to help them distinguish their favorite food items.

How the development of Olfactory lobes affect Turkey’s sense of smell?

Turkeys are not blessed with a sharp sense of smell. Turkeys do not have a developed sense of smell as the brain region that controls olfaction is smaller in size. Smaller olfactory lobes are the reason Turkeys have little to no sense of smell.

Do Turkeys have nostrils?

Yes, they have well-developed see-through nostrils but that does not mean it helps in magically improving Turkey’s sense of smell. Turkey’s sense of odor is not heightened or weakened by the presence of nostrils or their size rather it is controlled by the brain.

Turkeys sniff

Turkeys can sniff but that does not mean they are going to smell far off things. Turkeys’ poor sense of odor comes in the way every time they try to sniff or smell something.

Does Scent control help in hunting wild Turkeys?

No, there is no need to apply scent control when hunting a wild Turkey. They are not going to smell a hunter’s presence anyway thanks to their poor sense of smell. However, to not lure other wild animals when hunting in a forest, a hunter might want the help of scent control.

Does lust scent work for Turkeys?

No, lust scent would not be able to draw Turkey closer to the hunter. They would not be able to smell the scent in the first place let alone come closer.

Do Turkeys have Highly developed five senses?

Turkey does not even book a spot in the Top 10 when it comes to their sense of smell and taste. However, Turkey’s daylight vision is amazing, it is often said that they can see through a knothole. The sense of hearing and touch is also stronger in Turkeys.

Can Turkeys Smell Food Items

Frequently Asked Questions

What sense do Turkeys have?

The two critical senses that Turkeys have are sight and hearing. They also possess other senses (touch, smell, and taste) but they are not as developed as the aforementioned senses.

What do Turkeys do when they sense danger?

Their reaction is quite surprising when they sense danger. They show no urgency and remain motionless for a long time.

What time of the day Turkeys are the most active?

Turkeys are more active in the morning and afternoon hours on a clear, calm, sunny day. On a wet and rainy day, Turkeys do not report much activity.

What does Turkey’s vision look like?

Turkeys are bestowed with excellent daylight vision, three times better than human beings. They can track down the slightest movement and assimilate detail with a 270-degree vision.

Why do Turkeys fan their tail?

Turkeys like to impress their counterparts with their several actions, it is one of them. Just like peacocks, they fan their tails to attract their mating partner.


In brief, before going on a Turkey hunt, the hunter needs a better understanding of the Turkey’s senses to devise a clever strategy to track down the gobbler. Turkeys do not have a well-developed sense of smell because of the relatively smaller size of the olfactory lobes. So, they are not going to smell out a hunter tracking them, however, they may outsmart him with their incredible vision and hearing.

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