Turkey nesting success might be a washout this year

Steve PiattI've been seeing quite a few hens around my usual turkey-hunting haunts lately. That's the good news. The bad news is I haven't seen a poult in over a month, and that sighting came during a scenario I'd rather not re-live: while out for a walk with our two Labs, Haley encountered a hen and several poults and managed to kill one, and maybe two, before I realized what was happening. She was quite proud. I was mortified, and not just because it occurred on one of my turkey hunting properties.

Anyway, with seemingly endless rainfall through the spring and early summer, it's no surprise that it seems, at least right now, to have taken a toll on turkey nesting and brood rearing. Nothing official yet; that will come later this summer when DEC conducts its annual sighting surveys to get at least a rough handle on what kind of nesting success there's been across the state. But we can pretty much guess at this point.

It really was a statewide condition, these spring and summer rains, with no real break in the downpours. Some areas of the state can handle a poor production year better than others, and as a fanatical turkey hunter it will be interesting to see how the wet weather translates to bird numbers next spring. My guess is we shouldn't count on seeing a ton of jakes.

One factor, however, in the lack of poult sightings in my neighborhood may be the fact that many fields are growing high, with farmers unable to get in to mow them and bale hay. It's been that wet this season, more suitable for rice or a cranberry bog that alfalfa. Maybe, just maybe, when the fields are cut we'll start seeing a few young turkeys, but I'm not optimistic.

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