Can Turkeys Really Not Smell

male turkey in forest

There has been a long debate among hunters on whether or not turkeys can smell. Some claim that because a turkey’s nose is at the top of its head, it has an impaired sense of smell. Others argue that because a turkey can taste with its beak and feel vibrations from the ground, it must have an excellent sense of smell.

How Good Is A Turkeys Sense Of Smell

Of course, turkeys can’t speak to their fragrance perceptions for us to know exactly what they think. But there is scientific evidence to support the movement that turkeys have an excellent sense of smell.

For example, many turkey hunters use scent to attract wild turkeys. Many others use scent in situations where they want to keep designated wild turkeys away from their hunting locations. The use of scent is a proven technique.

The Science

Another example: A male wild turkey’s scent gland is located on each thigh. Two smaller scent glands are located on their chest. These giblets produce an oily substance called “turkey tarsal gland secretion.” Together, the oil and secretions from these giblets are known to be a strong, natural repellent to insects and small animals that attack wild turkeys during their vulnerable nesting season.

Scientist also believe turkeys can smell due to the shape of their brain. A turkey’s brain is large, and has two optic lobes that are responsible for a turkey’s excellent vision. There is also a third lobe that is responsible for smell and taste.

The fact that a turkey has an excellent sense of taste, as well as an excellent sense of sight and sense of smell, it only natural to assume that they have an excellent sense of smell throughout.


Turkeys can smell, and they have an excellent sense of smell. As a result, they can quickly detect the presence of predators and hunters by their scent.

The ability to smell is an important tool in a wild turkey’s survival. If you want to hunt wild turkeys effectively, you must learn how to avoid scents that might alert wild turkeys to your presence. If you do not, your hunting efforts will most likely be unsuccessful.

Written by Fred

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