Is anyone else in a quandary in regard to where to gobbler hunt in 2022? Unfortunately turkey numbers in my dependable Nebraska turkey spot has crashed from several hundred birds several years ago in tree rows to only a handful of turkeys in 2021.
The number of turkey hunters here in Colo has pretty much exploded the past few years in OTC units and tag numbers in just about every limited unit is 2 to 3x what they were several years ago.
Is anyone else struggling with trying to figure out a decent spot to hunt gobblers recently with the decline in turkey populations and increase in hunting pressure in many Western and Midwest states?
I'll hunt turkeys on my place, as usual, this year. That's assuming we have some birds. I'm getting a little concerned. In previous winters, I've had flocks of up to 100 birds living on my property at this time of year. I've only seen a handful so far this winter, and I have no clue why. They don't get hunted hard at all in my area, and we don't have any more predators than usual. It's kind of disheartening, since they were doing so well not that long ago.
I've shared this video before. It sure doesn't seem that long ago, but this was in 2013 at my place. The turkey population has dwindled since then. Does the NWTF, or anyone, know why? It's definitely not due to over-hunting or predation around here.
I started hunting Nebraska around 8 years ago. The past 3 years there have been significantly fewer and fewer birds until last year when there were only a handful.
When I first hunted Nebraska there were hardly any coyotes. A local guy told me that mange was a really bad (or good) problem with coyotes those early years. I saw more and more coyotes every year. I've heard coons and possums eat a lot of turkey eggs. Nebraska also had some horrible spring weather around nesting time. I'm pretty sure there is some type of disease hammering the turkeys. One place had around 300 turkeys roosting in their trees 6 to 8 years ago and last year they said there were only around 5 or 10. I know bluetongue/EHD has been a major problem with the deer in there area but I don't think it infects turkeys. A few years ago west nile hammered some of the other birds but didn't seem to hit turkeys. I would be curious if anyone knows of any turkey diseases found in Nebraska and the midwest states?
I also used to see literally hundreds of turkeys along I80 through Nebraska. Not any more.
I was very encouraged by the numbers of broods that I saw and got trailcam videos of, here at home in Iowa, this year. Seemed to have a very good hatch, compared to the past several years. Our numbers are down here, as well.
Planning on getting out a bunch here at home, plus making it down to my buddys place in Oklahoma, as well as possibly Nebraska.
In western NY, our numbers plummeted dramatically about 5-8 years ago. Wasn't really sure why. I started planting a couple cornfields every year, and I dusted off my traps and started trapping predators......ANY mammal predator. Skunks, opossums, and coons because they'll backtrack a hen to her nest and eat the eggs.....and coyotes, fox, and fishers because they'll take the birds as well. Sure enough, my numbers are starting to rebound somewhat.... However, it seems like there are two other factors that weigh heavily in the turkey population....1.) A wet Spring really seems to reduce the survival rate for the new year's hatch. 2.) Avian predators - hawks, and especially owls are pounding the birds in my area, and since they are protected by law, they get a free pass. For those of you seeing a dramatic decrease of recent, does any of what I have described seem to have changed in recent years?
As a long time life member and sponsor if the NWTF , I have to say that in the last decade or so the NWTF lost its way. During that time period they lost their focus on the wild turkey. It has been widely reported and well known that generally speaking the populations of wild turkeys have declined and in many states continue to decline. And the NWTF doesn’t know why. Over the years I have donated thousands of dollars and a lot of time to that organization and I have to confess I don’t even know its mission statement. Unlike the wild sheep foundation which is putting and keeping sheep on the mountain. Although the NWTF more recently seems to be expressing concern for the decline, they should be laser focused on figuring it out and I am not seeing it.
None of what you described in your area applies to mine. We don't have many Avian predators, and if anything, our coyote population is down from past years. I've never seen a fox, fisher, or opossum around here. And I haven't seen a skunk or raccoon in a long time. The only drastic change of animal populations, other than turkeys, is the rabbits have exploded in recent years.
I have to believe there is something else going on, like some sort of disease that targets turkeys the worst. Or, perhaps it has to do with our generally dryer climate that we've had over the last decade. I've been trying to find answers for a few years, and nobody seems to have any.
I think all wild game populations go up and down naturally. High turkey populations will be dealt an ugly blow by momma nature. I'm betting they bounce back in time. We had tremendous populations down here in the south in the 70's and 80's. In 1990 I remember my dad hearing one gobbling jake on our place the entire year and yes, he killed him. Since that time we have been on a steady increase and while we don't have the pop we had in the 80's we have a very strong group of birds to hunt. Habitat, weather, predation and disease are definitely major factors, but I don't think this is the end of turkeys like one fella above suggested. Wild quail left our area for 40 years and now we have a fairly strong population coming back mainly due to habitat I believe.
I hunt turkeys in Wis. not all areas are created equal, but my area has alot of birds. I draw a tag every year, and they always have extras..... However it is not a free for all, here only so many, draw from a Wed to a Tuesday...... lots of fun. Shot one western bird, no intrest in making the trip, when I can hunt close to home
My deer camp in SW Wis, was at one time, the "Mecca" of birds, today it is just dismal,,,,,, Everyone has a theory, I have no idea why, there are so few. My suspicion is that no manure etc, is thrown out on the fields anymore. Deep liquid manure, every square inch of land is turned over, used and not much left if any for wildlife. So yes I think modern big farm practices, have had an effect
Matt what surprises me is we graduate and hire so many new wildlife biologist every year and literally WASTE taxpayer money on funding their careers for very little return from them to OUR turkey populations. I'd hide!
My favorite place to call turkeys in PA has been over ridden by loud gas compressor stations in PA…bird numbers also down from what they use to be… tough calling a bird you can’t hear and he can’t hear you either
Indiana numbers are way up, especially Northern part of the state. I Plan on hitting Kansas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin again this year. Last few years the Kansas and Nebraska flocks seem to be down but still manage to kill birds and have alot of fun chasing them around either way.
Having lived and hunted Turkeys all over Neb for the last 25 years, I've never seen the numbers so low. I don't think anyone knows exactly why. Different biologists give me different answers. I estimate the numbers at about 20% of their highest point. Highest numbers were reported statewide in 2004. They have been on a steady decline ever since. Many areas there is no breeding stock left. It sucks, and I hope we raise funds to restock and relocate new birds.
Sivart, that is exactly what I'm seeing in Nebraska. For some reason turkeys totally tanked in a couple places I hunt last year. I got toms but likely should have not even hunted or shot any of them because there were so few last spring. Needless to say, I'm searching elsewhere this year. I certainly hope Nebraska cuts spring and fall tags or it could get even worse?
My Dream hunt was to go to Nebraska this year as my retirement present . I have been thinking of holding off because of the covid fiasco .I am listening to you guys speak and maybe I had better be looking for another area instead. Mad have you read any of Dr. Chamberlins studies on the Turkeys very interesting
A lot of birds in my home state. Private farm close to home had 4 dozen during the late archery season. I have 15-20 of them on the wood lot behind my house (16 acres) Nearby on public land, along the river bluffs I used to see 15-20 birds every trip. Haven't seen much there in 2-3 years. I think it's a localized phenomenon.
I’m hoping to get my 4 year old out for at least one turkey hunt. Might try to fly up to Michigan but if not I’ll try my luck in Nebraska with him, or Colorado if I can find a reasonable spot to bring him into.
The Eastern Shore of Maryland always has a lot of turkeys. I like them because they eat the potato bugs off my potato plants and I don't have to spray. One old hen has a nest near my garden every year. I don't normally hunt turkeys but spot some gobblers for my neighbor and he gets his gobbler every year. We still seem to have plenty of birds.
Gray Ghost— it’s wide-spread across the nation, and seemed to start in the southeast. Kansas crash started 8-10 years ago where we had our biggest population in central sandhills. All kinds of huge winter flocks 300 or more. Within 2-3 years almost nothing.
I didn't fill a Turkey tag last year in KS for the first time in 20+, I'm with you Rick...gotta try a time or two but there are lots of good eatin critters to "catch", and things to "hunt" in the Spring!