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5 Reasons American Wild Turkeys Are Declining


Grouse
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   There are going to be different  answers here. #6 above,I would write  without a doubt-- THERE ARE TOO MANY OF US.....

  Every Spring many more Spring Turkey Hunters take to the Woods.

  I strongly believe that " alot" of Spring Turkey Hunters nationwide are taking over their State's  Legal Limit.

  A good Pheasant Dog will definitely  flush up unwary Flocks of Turkeys on October 1st.   Excited Hunters will definitely  pull the Trigger even if the legal Fall Turkey Season opens on October  15th.

 Not all Pheasant hunters- but alot- especially  if they don't  have nearby company...

 That Turkey fits easily in the Pheasant Vest along with the 3 Mourning Doves. 

  The above added to habitat Predators, etc is not talked about much- but is definitely  part of the Turkey Decline.

 " Reaping" in all States should be outlawed in the Spring. TSS  and the best scopes have Spring Hunters taking 60,65,70+ yard shots . Many Gobblers get away crippled to Die later.

  Many of the Newer Spring hunters need not learn Woodsmanship  and perfect Calling skills. The best Shotguns,Scopes,TSS Ammo has made very many Into Turkey Shooters rather then Turkey Hunters. 

 

   

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Nesting habitat  is gone is biggest  issue  the fallow fields by me are now in corn production as ethanol is raised the price of corn for feed.  

Hay is now cut very early in hopes of getting 3 cuttings for silage.. june is cutting month where it use to be july and nest would be hatched. Ealry cutting either destroys the nest or opens it up for easy predation.  Birds have a territory and wont nest to colse to each other. So 1 field may only hold 1 or 2 nest depending  on its size  ..eliminite hundreds of acres of hay field and reproductive success drops way off.

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6 minutes ago, Jeremy K said:

It's hard to believe the population decline is due to the number taken by hunters.

It is definitely  part of the Decline equation Jeremy. Be it a Small Part.

  All across the Country  now there are areas where there are high Turkey numbers and plenty of Hens- ( my area) and others in New York that can be called- ( Dry Pocket areas) of very few wild Turkeys.

 This is very True in North New Jersey where,I also hunt. Very Few Wild Turkeys while All of South New Jersey have record High numbers of Turkeys. Half of Pennsylvania  Turkey Hunters hunt there now- those numbers won't  last....

 Way back in the 1980s and on in many western,NY Counties - the Fall Turkey Take often DOUBLED the Spring Take. And this area has always been a 1 Turkey area for a Fall Limit. You won't find this online- but,I still have the DEC Paperwork . I believe that is 1 major reason Western,NY Turkey Numbers have gone way down.

 Back in the same time Period- Rockland County had very few Turkeys. The same Paperwork shows- (Zero) Turkeys Taken in the Spring some years.

 Now Rockland County is over run with Turkeys and very few areas to hunt them there. They are in everybody's  backyard.

 From my reading,I know that some Researchers  now believe  that Hens will only Mate with a Certain Gobbler. Take that Gobbler out too early and just perhaps that Hen does not Nest.

Famed Turkey Hunter and Author- Dwain Bland wrote that when he traveled  in the Spring- he would look up the number of Spring Gobblers Killed and ADD ON 100% to get the True number.

  

   

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It's a shame. Back when I bought my place in 8P in 2007 we would see many Turkeys. Not too many hunters shot them. Fields were planted in corn mostly. My guess predation cause the coyote population increased. Loved seeing these birds in the field. 

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I didn’t cut my hay fields until August of this year.  Maybe that’s why there seems to be a lot of turkeys around here now:

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I don’t see how increased numbers of spring turkey hunters could be hurting the population much, since they are mostly killing toms only.  
 

I have yet to kill or even take a shot at a tom turkey.  I have only ever killed one turkey (a hen in the fall).  Even so,  I think they I personally have done a lot more good than harm for the local population.  I do that “good” by: 1) never cutting hay before July, 2) eliminating raccoons, 3) Planting clover, corn, and wheat, solely for the benefit of the wildlife.  
 

I will admit that there was a time when I did not like seeing wild turkeys around, because I always saw them in my field corn, and I wanted that for the deer.  I considered them nothing more than “feathered rats”.  This was compounded by the fact that I love the taste of venison, but never cared much at all for turkey (tastes like dry cardboard to me). 
 

I have since learned that turkeys will not touch field corn, unless it is first nocked down for them by raccoons.  Take out the coons, and the turkeys don’t touch the corn.  Now, I like the turkeys a lot more.  That young hen that I killed a few years ago, was actually somewhat tasty.  
 

I am looking forward to a hunt or two for them this fall (probably on weekday evenings), if I can squeeze them in at home (in the southern zone), around the northern zone early ML week and opening weekend of gun.  I am going to do my best to target a tom, hopefully that big one that I saw out in the gas line, earlier this week.  

Edited by wolc123
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18 minutes ago, wolc123 said:

I didn’t cut my hay fields until August of this year.  Maybe that’s why there seems to be a lot of turkeys around here now:

39B0794A-8565-4460-A37C-558B65A71561.thumb.jpeg.a72b86d37e60762a9dc1bafd3a9e6c62.jpeg

D5065742-36E1-4487-82F1-B1F2B5160D23.thumb.jpeg.0ef3c166009e4bc9acb41a214cc09bd2.jpeg
 

I don’t see how increased numbers of spring turkey hunters could be hurting the population much, since they are mostly killing toms only.  
 

I have yet to kill or even take a shot at a tom turkey.  I have only ever killed one turkey (a hen in the fall).  Even so,  I think they I personally have done a lot more good than harm for the local population.  I do that “good” by: 1) never cutting hay before July, 2) eliminating raccoons, 3) Planting clover, corn, and wheat, solely for the benefit of the wildlife.  
 

I will admit that there was a time when I did not like seeing wild turkeys around, because I always saw them in my field corn, and I wanted that for the deer.  I considered them nothing more than “feathered rats”.  This was compounded by the fact that I love the taste of venison, but never cared much at all for turkey (tastes like dry cardboard to me). 
 

I have since learned that turkeys will not touch field corn, unless it is first nocked down for them by raccoons.  Take out the coons, and the turkeys don’t touch the corn.  Now, I like the turkeys a lot more.  That young hen that I killed a few years ago, was actually somewhat tasty.  
 

I am looking forward to a hunt or two for them this fall (probably on weekday evenings), if I can squeeze them in at home (in the southern zone), around the northern zone early ML week and opening weekend of gun.  I am going to do my best to target a tom, hopefully that big one that I saw out in the gas line, earlier this week.  

Wolc- That's great that you Mowed late.

 I know all about Habitat + Increasing Predators of every sort. 

 I have the 463 page Hardcover- THE WILD TURKEY- BIOLOGY + MANAGEMENT. Paid 60 Bucks for it back in 1992. Put together  by the best Wild Turkey Biologists. 

  I also have the late Kenny Morgan's  317 page HARDCOVER- AMERICA,WILD TURKEYS,+ MONGREL DOGS. He was Totally opposed to Decoy use that would bring Turkey Numbers down - hence-- Mongrel Dogs as he put it.

 Wolc- It took me 5 years to Kill my 1st Wild Turkey. Now - if you have the money to buy the most advanced Turkey Shotguns,Scopes,TSS Ammo,Blinds and Super Realistic  Gobbler Decoys- one can have success right away . 

 And there are far more Turkey Hunters Nationwide then Wild Turkeys. See what,I am saying.

 I myself use a Decoy perhaps 10% of the time.

   There are also alot of Turkey Hunters out there who don't get on Social Media and take over the Legal Limit.  Add outlaws and Poaching groups  that are never caught and the Turkey Population  is taking a bad hit.

  There is a certain " group" in North New Jersey that are known to Poach everything.  All you hear in the Spring  now are some Jakes. I won't  give any more info on this here.

  So the " People" factor is a part of the Decline also.

 Hoping for a future Turnaround in North New Jersey. That non Resident Hunting License costs me $135.50 and add in 21 Bucks for a Turkey Permit.

  And Wolc- in New Jersey if one has the money, and both Private and Public areas to Hunt- a Spring Turkey Hunter can buy up to 27 Spring Turkey Permits. You read that right.  New Jersey should lower the max Limit to (3) max.

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, blackbeltbill said:

 Wolc- It took me 5 years to Kill my 1st Wild Turkey. Now - if you have the money to buy the most advanced Turkey Shotguns,Scopes,TSS Ammo,Blinds and Super Realistic  Gobbler Decoys- one can have success right away .

I disagree with you a little here. I think you would agree that the hardest part of turkey hunting is getting one in range, not the shot. Sure some of the newer setups can push a shot into the 50's, but most are still shooting birds 30 and under. Getting a bird to even 60 yards takes good woodsmanship, and calling. Heck some birds are scared off by tom decoys. I'm not trying to pick a fight, just that I don't think tech is making turkey hunting easy.

Edited by Belo
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I guess my area is against the norm of decline. Decent amount of farming in the area, mostly corn and hay fields. Tons of predators, and lots of turkeys. Seeing good amount of poults, some close to mom's size, some partridge size.  Also seen several bachelor groups.   

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57 minutes ago, mowin said:

I guess my area is against the norm of decline. Decent amount of farming in the area, mostly corn and hay fields. Tons of predators, and lots of turkeys. Seeing good amount of poults, some close to mom's size, some partridge size.  Also seen several bachelor groups.   

Mine is similar, but my flock is bizarre. I'll see 20+ for a few days and then nothing for weeks and weeks. A good number of polts seem to have done well too. I've read somewhere that 6 months was the sweet spot, if they can make that long they're usually good for a few more years.

When I had turkey populations blow up at my old hunting grounds it was when the farmers would let a field go fallow. It was at an all time high when we had a fallow grape vineyard. It was prime nesting habitat. Now it's all almost always farmed and the numbers are down quite a bit. 

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45 minutes ago, Belo said:

Mine is similar, but my flock is bizarre. I'll see 20+ for a few days and then nothing for weeks and weeks. A good number of polts seem to have done well too. I've read somewhere that 6 months was the sweet spot, if they can make that long they're usually good for a few more years.

When I had turkey populations blow up at my old hunting grounds it was when the farmers would let a field go fallow. It was at an all time high when we had a fallow grape vineyard. It was prime nesting habitat. Now it's all almost always farmed and the numbers are down quite a bit. 

In my immediate hunting area, there is very few overgrown fields. Most are cut for hay. Lots of brushy hedge rows, and a couple large swamps that have brushy edges.  Couple of the fields were cow paddock's back in the 80's. Those were almost impossible to walk through 10-15 yrs ago. Now the scrub brush is 20'+ tall and the thick canopy is over my head. See turkeys in there all fall eating the little berries that they produce. 

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8 hours ago, mowin said:

I guess my area is against the norm of decline. Decent amount of farming in the area, mostly corn and hay fields. Tons of predators, and lots of turkeys. Seeing good amount of poults, some close to mom's size, some partridge size.  Also seen several bachelor groups.   

Right-- Orange County has a very Strong Turkey Population.  All over the place.

  22 miles to the South where,I hunt 5 Different  large Public areas-- very few Wild Turkeys in North New Jersey...

 But-- take your Bear Spray! Black Bears are everywhere  in North New Jersey.

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59 minutes ago, blackbeltbill said:

Right-- Orange County has a very Strong Turkey Population.  All over the place.

  22 miles to the South where,I hunt 5 Different  large Public areas-- very few Wild Turkeys in North New Jersey...

 But-- take your Bear Spray! Black Bears are everywhere  in North New Jersey.

I've always found it odd North NJ has a large bear population.  Lots of large mature forest in my area and a decent amount of corn fields sprinkled around.  In 30+ yrs hunting the same properties I've never seen a bear while hunting, and only last fall did I get a cell cam pic of one. 

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4 minutes ago, mowin said:

I've always found it odd North NJ has a large bear population.  Lots of large mature forest in my area and a decent amount of corn fields sprinkled around.  In 30+ yrs hunting the same properties I've never seen a bear while hunting, and only last fall did I get a cell cam pic of one. 

  My late Girlfriend  Patti had plenty of Black Bear problems while living in a Townhouse community  in Vernon,NJ. They break into the Dumpsters a few times a week and drag the Garbage up the Mountain.  She had one outside her door along with 2 Cubs. I have called in 2 Black Bears while Spring Turkey Hunting in New Jersey . A Young Male in Ringwood,NJ and a big Sow in West Milford,NJ. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, blackbeltbill said:

  My late Girlfriend  Patti had plenty of Black Bear problems while living in a Townhouse community  in Vernon,NJ. They break into the Dumpsters a few times a week and drag the Garbage up the Mountain.  She had one outside her door along with 2 Cubs. I have called in 2 Black Bears while Spring Turkey Hunting in New Jersey . A Young Male in Ringwood,NJ and a big Sow in West Milford,NJ. 

 

 

I called in a big bear probably 25 yrs ago in the Catskills while turkey hunting.  This was 10 yards from me popping it's jaw.  I was filming some friends from Maine, and had nothing but a camera.  Stupid broken pipe in the basement ruined all my tapes. 

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