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Old 03-04-2017, 10:39 AM   #1
mgc
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Gobble Gobble and question

Feather and Tin Tossers aren't the only ones with a count down ....
Once this short spring goose season passes many of us are counting the days to spring turkey season.
Hopefully the fairly light winter has helped the flocks flourish....

Although the turkey population in Northern NY is doing better than elsewhere in the state, overall the turkey population is down significantly. To remedy this the DEC has done surveys and made some minor reg changes. They altered the fall season beginning 2015 in response to the shortage of birds. They are monitoring the affect of that change over a 4 year period...
http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/48823.html

They hope to strike a balance between keeping hunters happy and helping to improve the flocks.... but, they cannot control most of the causes of population decline… winter, spring rain, predation…

What if they did the one obvious thing that is guaranteed to improve the flocks? Halting the hen harvest would immediately improve the population. A hen will lay 10 to 12 eggs per year. For each hen that is allowed to survive the fall season an additional 3 to 4 poults, some of them hens, may live to reproduce. Elimination of the hen harvest could improve the statewide population by 2,000 birds in the first year alone! The improvement in the flock increases with each year that we allow the hen population to grow. Why wouldn’t we want to do that?

So here's a question… in the interest of helping the turkey population recover, would you support eliminating the harvest of hens?
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Old 03-04-2017, 02:18 PM   #2
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Yes and no , as an experienced hunter I have no problem hunting only toms , but I think young hunters should be allowed to take a hen in the fall.
I think the new youth weekends earlier in the seasons ( deer and turkey ) are fantastic for the future of hunting.
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Old 03-04-2017, 05:14 PM   #3
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You guys call us Feather Tossers behind our backs? Who knew?

But if any of you have matched turkey tail feathers you'd like to get rid of we might see it in our hearts to forgive you.
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Old 03-05-2017, 11:56 AM   #4
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At the end of the day, we're talking about an estimated game population 160k-180k in NY, so it's not like the gradual downward trend is a real emergency; animal populations routinely go through different cycles of up's and down's (usually for a variety of reasons). And improving the population by 2k is barely a drop in the bucket.

I don't see a need to eliminate the hen harvest (at least not yet), mostly because human hunting doesn't seem to be the main reason for the gradual decline in #'s. Rather I think the DEC should continue to engage with local landowners to promote better turkey habitat, the same way they've done for other game species in the past. And as well, the DEC needs to encourage more hunters, in certain areas, to go after Turkey predators (like raccoon and coyote). This is a topic that has been brought up before, but when certain predator populations grow, they can have an impact on other game species in a particular region.

Last edited by Bounder45; 03-05-2017 at 12:15 PM..
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Old 03-05-2017, 01:07 PM   #5
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The area I hunt used to have huge flocks of turkeys, I'm talking 40 to 50 birds (when I was growing up there was zero turkeys). To watch that flock forage through the woods on multiple occasions would make one wonder how they didn't deplete their resource to starvation.
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Old 03-05-2017, 09:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtflyfish View Post
You guys call us Feather Tossers behind our backs? Who knew?
Hm...yes, sorry about that...Feather Flingers to be precise...Tin Tossers, Feather Flingers... sorry Leo...

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But if any of you have matched turkey tail feathers you'd like to get rid of we might see it in our hearts to forgive you.
Tail feathers (and tails) I keep...kills me to tie an Alder but much like Junglecock, there aren't any real good substitutes.
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Old 03-05-2017, 09:48 PM   #7
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At the end of the day, we're talking about an estimated game population 160k-180k in NY, so it's not like the gradual downward trend is a real emergency; animal populations routinely go through different cycles of up's and down's (usually for a variety of reasons). And improving the population by 2k is barely a drop in the bucket.
In 2001 the population in NYS was nearly 300,000 birds... harvest is down nearly 50% overall....the problem is here now...

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I don't see a need to eliminate the hen harvest (at least not yet), mostly because human hunting doesn't seem to be the main reason for the gradual decline in #'s. Rather I think the DEC should continue to engage with local landowners to promote better turkey habitat, the same way they've done for other game species in the past. And as well, the DEC needs to encourage more hunters, in certain areas, to go after Turkey predators (like raccoon and coyote). This is a topic that has been brought up before, but when certain predator populations grow, they can have an impact on other game species in a particular region.
Controlling predation is a tough one. The overall decline of hunters and trappers with an interest to go after skunks, raccoons, possums and fox makes this a long shot approach...

Habitat...sure and yes but where is there an incentive for the landowners to do that?

The only thing that is controllable are hunters...
Personally I try to help youth get a Jake or a Tom... "teach your children well"...
If hens are around, Jakes and Toms are always nearby if you wait..
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Old 03-06-2017, 06:50 AM   #8
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They just changed the fall season to one bird and cut that season to two weeks. That's a big difference, and that might be enough. Turkey populations around me are good now when they weren't a couple years ago. Easy winters have helped big time.
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Old 03-06-2017, 09:56 AM   #9
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I'm pretty much okay with whatever the professional biologists and wildlife managers recommend.
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Old 03-06-2017, 11:43 AM   #10
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In 2001 the population in NYS was nearly 300,000 birds... harvest is down nearly 50% overall....the problem is here now...
You're treating this as an impending disaster...it's not. Go read this DEC report on Turkey: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_...eyresearch.pdf

Less than 4 decades ago, NY barely had 30k Turkey. The Turkey population in NY and the US in general has increased substantially over the last few decades primarily due to better hunting regulation and promoting better habitat.

The report states that there was a rabies outbreak in NY during the 90's, which impacted nest predators (raccoon, possum) and allowed the Turkey population to thrive and reach a peak in 2001. The gradual decline from that 2001 peak has been attributed to a number of reasons: the population resetting itself to reach equilibrium with the local environment; changing habitat; weather; changing reproduction rates; and changing predator communities.

The data shows that fall Turkey hunters have declined some 25k from 2001 to 2011. I highly doubt reducing the hen harvest will have much of an impact, since most of contributing factors to the decline are related to the environment, not human hunting.


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Controlling predation is a tough one. The overall decline of hunters and trappers with an interest to go after skunks, raccoons, possums and fox makes this a long shot approach...
It's not a long shot at all...there are many hunters and trappers here in NY who are willing to go after those animals. Coyote hunting has grown in popularity in recent years. Raccoon hunting never really went away, you just might not be aware that it goes on. Trapping still goes on and is a viable control method, though oddly enough you've previously said that you don't agree with such methods.

Fox aren't as prevalent in the wilderness and farmlands due to the coyotes...I've seen more fox running around my neighborhood than I've seen out in the wild.

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Habitat...sure and yes but where is there an incentive for the landowners to do that?
It has been done in the past to promote the health and numbers for other game birds and species. In fact, Turkeys were able to reoccupy NY because the DEC and volunteer conservation groups (like the National Wild Turkey Federation), found suitable habitat to put them in. A lot of those efforts entailed working with local farmers and landowners as Turkey do much better in mixed agricultural/woodlands rather than the mature forests that exist on state land.

If the DEC and state biologists decide the hen harvest needs to be adjusted, I'll support that decision. I just don't see such a move having much of an impact on the Turkey population, at least not without employing other measures in coordination with it.

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Old 03-07-2017, 05:31 AM   #11
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I think if the Turkeys have a successful nesting season it can make a big difference. A wet cold spring kills lots of eggs and poults.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:13 PM   #12
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Glad to see the turkey discussion going early. I started one off last season as I'm addicted to spring turkey hunting. I'm with Fly Rodder about biologists and Bounder about the habitat. It's the NWTF that says "Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt." And also, as ehsfishin72 says, nesting season plays a huge role.

With the shorter fall seasons, much to the chagrin of many hunters, DEC is doing what they can to encourage a lighter hen harvest but it's not an exact science given that some parts of the state, such as the Adirondacks, are vastly different than others. I went to a seminar last spring given by two DEC R5 biologists who said Northeastern New York was fairing better than other parts of the state in recent years.

As for predators, don't forget bobcats. They hammer turkeys.
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:57 AM   #13
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As for predators, don't forget bobcats. They hammer turkeys.
Sure do. I haven't called in bobcat yet, but a couple of years ago I hen called in a skunk. It was coming in on a string and I didn't see what it was until it was 20-25 yards away. I froze for a second, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't want it in my lap and I didn't want to spook it and have it spray me. So I stood up slowly and it scurried off. Only time I've had that happen to me.
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Old 03-08-2017, 12:03 PM   #14
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As for predators, don't forget bobcats. They hammer turkeys.
Yeah bobcats for sure as well. I haven't hunted for them yet, but I've talked to a few who hunt them in the ADK's and Tug Hill area with hounds or with calling...very tough animals to hunt from what I hear. Where I live in NY, coyotes are everywhere and the small game doesn't seem to be nearly as plentiful as it was 10-15 years ago...I'm not saying there's a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two, but I've no doubt the coyotes have some amount of impact on certain animals like rabbit, turkey and fox. I see more rabbits and foxes when I go for a walk around my suburban neighborhood than when I go for hikes or hunts at my local WMA....I think a lot of animals naturally move towards human habitat to avoid predation (an affect I've heard referred to as "human shielding").

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Sure do. I haven't called in bobcat yet, but a couple of years ago I hen called in a skunk. It was coming in on a string and I didn't see what it was until it was 20-25 yards away. I froze for a second, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't want it in my lap and I didn't want to spook it and have it spray me. So I stood up slowly and it scurried off. Only time I've had that happen to me.
That had to have been a high pucker factor moment, literally...for you and the skunk.
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Old 03-08-2017, 04:35 PM   #15
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A dozen years ago I had a coyote attack my hen decoy. It was the funniest thing I've seen. I've watched coyotes stalk turkeys a few times, but never saw them have success. I've also seen bobcat tracks following those of turkeys in the winter and have heard numerous eyewitness reports of attacks, including from trees. That would be something to see.

Now a skunk, Fly Rodder, that takes the cake!
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:49 PM   #16
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I once watched a fox keep company with a flock of turkeys. One species didn't seem to mind the other. I surmised that the turkeys felt no threat and the fox was using the turkeys to kick up mice.
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Old 03-08-2017, 07:39 PM   #17
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I once watched a fox keep company with a flock of turkeys. One species didn't seem to mind the other. I surmised that the turkeys felt no threat and the fox was using the turkeys to kick up mice.
That surprises me. With the varied diet of the turkeys, I would think they would eat the mice as well.
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Old 03-09-2017, 10:21 AM   #18
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Last year I called in a racoon (he stopped about 5 feet from me, I moved my hand to get his attention and turn him back). I also called in a pair of coyotes. One of them came within 10 feet of me. I was pointing the barrel of my shotgun in her direction just in case... she had a keen eye focused on my decoys.
I have also seen coyotes enter the woods in response to other hunters calls.
One thing you can be pretty sure of, if the yotes are around your morning hunt is most likely hosed.

There is no question that the Northern turkey population is doing better than it is in Southern Tier and Western NY. In Northern NY it's only down about 25%.
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Old 03-09-2017, 03:08 PM   #19
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A dozen years ago I had a coyote attack my hen decoy. It was the funniest thing I've seen. I've watched coyotes stalk turkeys a few times, but never saw them have success. I've also seen bobcat tracks following those of turkeys in the winter and have heard numerous eyewitness reports of attacks, including from trees. That would be something to see.

Now a skunk, Fly Rodder, that takes the cake!
Yeah, my only guess is that it was coming in looking for an easy meal of fresh turkey eggs.
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Old 04-05-2017, 01:11 PM   #20
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ok, here is my take on the Turkey situation, I read the first post and answered , didn't read any other. There are a lot of birds out there. The hunters got spoiled in the late 90`s early 2000`s with easy hunts because the population exploded. Now that the pop has returned to normal, yes I said normal you have to work for your birds & it isn't as easy. I have been doing this for 35 years & in the 80`s went many days with out hearing gobbles. I can remember as a boy when the signs along Chenengo Canal read to not harm the re-introduced birds(late 70`s early 80`s) The state in its infinite wisdom sacrificed the fall season to appease these sportsmen who wished for the easy hunts of the 90`2-2000`s. They complained & the state acted. The fact is that predation took some but disease from over population took more. The biggest factor however is that we had some bad nesting seasons consecutively. The fall season & killing a few hens had NO effect on the population. No one gave a thought to the fall hunter, or the fall turkey dogger. Another fact is that a spring season is really a recent development, & that it was usually always a fall winter hunt in traditional turkey states. JMHO, Mike
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