Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Spring gobbler take above DEC forecast

Staff report

Albany – New York’s 2007 spring turkey harvest may parallel the
2006 tally, despite DEC pre-season projections that it would be
about 10 percent lower this year.

DEC biologist Mike Schiavone said the final tally won’t be known
until later this summer after turkey hunter surveys – sent out to
about 12,000 hunters – are compiled.

But estimates based on harvest success calls to the DECALS
automated reporting system ran about on par with the 2006
season.

‘It’s about identical to 2006 – about 8,000 calls received,’ he
said. ‘Not all hunters, obviously, call in to report their harvest.
Only about 25 percent of them do. That’s one of the challenges we
face when tallying the harvest each year and that’s why we do the
turkey hunter survey as well.’

DEC reported a 2006 spring harvest of 27,700 gobblers, and
indications are that it will be in that neighborhood again this
year. DEC had initially projected a decline of about 10 percent
based on a poor nesting season last year.

But Schiavone said it appears that an outstanding production
year of 2005 helped boost this year’s harvest. That was also
reflected in the makeup of this year’s gobbler take.

‘Last spring, the ratio of jakes to toms harvested was about one
to one, which was as high as it’s been. There were a lot of young
birds last year. What we’re seeing this year is a ratio of about
two to one, toms to jakes. So there were more adult birds out
there; probably lots of 2-year-old birds from the good nesting
season of 2005,’ he said.

The 2007 spring gobbler harvest will likely continue a trend
upward as New York’s turkey hunting rebounds from the 2005 tally of
24,900 spring gobblers – the lowest total in the past 10 years.

While it’s still a bit too early to tell, this spring and early
summer has been relatively dry and warm, perhaps setting the stage
for another good nesting season.

‘So far, so good,’ Schiavone said.

Schiavone, however, says that the timing of wet or cold weather
often determines the quality of the production year for
turkeys.

‘There are really two critical periods we’re dealing with,’ he
said. ‘When the hens are on the nests and it rains, it’s generally
thought that they are more vulnerable to predation, as are the
nests. The thinking is that the wet weather creates more scent for
predators to locate. When the poults are very young and it rains,
they’re small enough to take shelter under the hen’s wings – they
can still fit under there. When they’re bigger, they can’t do that,
and they’re more vulnerable to the elements and potential
disease.’

Schiavone said the aside from the harvest reports via the DECALS
system, field reports from across the state ‘ran the gamut,’ from
hunters hearing lots of gobbling to others ‘not hearing a
peep.’

Many hunters reported gobbling activity but uncooperative toms
led away by accompanying hens.

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