Gobbler harvest solid

Albany – New York’s spring gobbler hunters are having a good
season for several reasons, not the least of which is an
outstanding nesting season across most of the state last year.

DEC officials said the reported tom take was up about 15 percent
from last year midway through the May 1-31 season.

Heading into the popular spring gobbler season, DEC officials
were confident the stage was set for some successful hunting.

“Based on above-average production last spring/summer and a
relatively mild winter in much of the state – particularly the
Southern Tier) – we anticipated a similar harvest to spring 2007,
and we’re on pace so far to come pretty close to that,” DEC
wildlife biologist Mike Schiavone said.

New York’s spring gobbler harvest has rebounded in recent years
after some sub-par reproduction. The spring 2006 take was an
estimated 27,700 gobblers, and that number jumped to 35,625 last
year. That number, Schiavone said, approaches some of the state’s
record-high harvests that occurred from 1999-2003.

The state’s two-day Youth Turkey Hunt, held April 26-27 for
hunters ages 12-15, gave some indications it was going to be a good
spring season.

“The reported harvest for the youth hunt was up about 50 percent
from 2007,” Schiavone said. “This may be due to several factors,
including increased awareness of the youth hunt among junior
hunters and their families and a corresponding increase in
participation; good weather in most regions; an increased reporting
rate, and a decent number of birds on the landscape.”

Schiavone added, however, that DEC officials won’t know the
estimated harvest, participation and reporting rates until a
statewide turkey hunter survey is completed after the season.

Good weather across most of the state may also be playing a role
in the solid early numbers. Schiavone said weather data from USDA’s
National Agricultural Statistics Service for late April through the
second week in May showed the temperature in most regions of the
state “has been normal to slightly above normal, and rainfall has
been about one inch below normal. This favorable weather may have
resulted in more days afield for turkey hunters, and may have been
a factor in the increased reported harvest we observed during the
two-day youth hunt.”

The weather during the season, however, isn’t nearly as
important as the weather after the season when hen turkeys are
nesting and then rearing their poults.

“If this dry weather holds through June, it may mean good things
for the 2008 hatch as well, but that remains to be seen,” Schiavone
said.

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