Moultrie Mobile
The elephant in the room
Turkey
Contributors to this thread:
petedrummond 15-Feb-23
WV Mountaineer 15-Feb-23
DanaC 15-Feb-23
ronsoutdoors 15-Feb-23
Fields 15-Feb-23
Fields 15-Feb-23
molsonarcher 15-Feb-23
Olink 15-Feb-23
c5ken 15-Feb-23
craigmcalvey 15-Feb-23
BOHUNTER09 15-Feb-23
MA-PAdeerslayer 15-Feb-23
Rut-N-Strut 15-Feb-23
cnelk 15-Feb-23
tobywon 15-Feb-23
Old School 15-Feb-23
Fields 15-Feb-23
Cobie33 15-Feb-23
PushCoArcher 15-Feb-23
Ben 15-Feb-23
Murph 15-Feb-23
Jeff Durnell 15-Feb-23
cnelk 15-Feb-23
Adam B 15-Feb-23
cnelk 15-Feb-23
Grey Ghost 15-Feb-23
Medicinemann 15-Feb-23
petedrummond 15-Feb-23
petedrummond 15-Feb-23
btnbuck 15-Feb-23
Missouribreaks 15-Feb-23
KHNC 15-Feb-23
BOHUNTER09 15-Feb-23
Smtn10PT 15-Feb-23
PECO2 15-Feb-23
redneck hunter 15-Feb-23
joehunter 15-Feb-23
WV Mountaineer 15-Feb-23
Cobie33 15-Feb-23
EmbryOklahoma 15-Feb-23
Cobie33 15-Feb-23
Cobie33 15-Feb-23
'Ike' (Phone) 16-Feb-23
Bigdog 21 16-Feb-23
sundowner 16-Feb-23
Grey Ghost 16-Feb-23
Blood 16-Feb-23
tobywon 16-Feb-23
Medicinemann 16-Feb-23
WV Mountaineer 16-Feb-23
4nolz@work 16-Feb-23
Bake 16-Feb-23
GFL 16-Feb-23
tobywon 16-Feb-23
Cobie33 16-Feb-23
Sivart 16-Feb-23
EmbryOklahoma 16-Feb-23
Shiloh 16-Feb-23
Franzen 18-Feb-23
Grey Ghost 18-Feb-23
sasquatch 18-Feb-23
Franzen 18-Feb-23
Pat Lefemine 18-Feb-23
Grey Ghost 18-Feb-23
Mad Trapper 20-Feb-23
Kydeer1 20-Feb-23
WV Mountaineer 20-Feb-23
MA-PAdeerslayer 20-Feb-23
Mathewsphone 20-Feb-23
drycreek 20-Feb-23
Smtn10PT 21-Feb-23
APauls 21-Feb-23
Sivart 21-Feb-23
Grey Ghost 21-Feb-23
Michael 21-Feb-23
Old School 21-Feb-23
Iowa_Archer 21-Feb-23
welka 16-Mar-23
INDBowhunter2 16-Mar-23
APauls 16-Mar-23
fuzzy 20-Mar-23
Robear 20-Mar-23
Shiloh 20-Mar-23
MA-PAdeerslayer 20-Mar-23
saXton 20-Mar-23
Huntiam 21-Mar-23
fuzzy 21-Mar-23
From: petedrummond
15-Feb-23
Ok i will ask it. Did the bird flu kill our wild turkeys? Personally I have ten Tactacam cameras out on my farm and have not seen a turkey on them since september. It is in a flood plain and waterfowl are known for carrying the disease. I fear those big fall flocks of hens and jakes might be a perfect storm for a very communicable disease. Your Opinion?

15-Feb-23
Yes. In my opinion the bird flu has been killing them for a while. At least in my area.

I can drive 25 minutes and hear a dozen or more in a day. I can hunt where I’ve grown up hunting and a lot of days not hear one. No more big fall flop CJ’s either.

Somethings killing them in certain areas and it’s been doing it for a while.

From: DanaC
15-Feb-23
Saw a lot less last year than previous years. Can maybe blame some of that on predators, but all?

From: ronsoutdoors
15-Feb-23
we have no issues here in the northeast right now.2022 was the best hatch year in many and an easy winter. There are birds everywhere right now

From: Fields
15-Feb-23
I think so.. I live in Northeast PA and the areas I hunted and killed gobblers every year are so depleted of turkeys, its almost a waste of my time to even go.. I put some blame on predators, but no way they are killing them all.

From: Fields
15-Feb-23

From: molsonarcher
15-Feb-23
Currently, where I hunt in east central Ohio, our flocks have been reduced to less than 1/2.

I believe 2 things most certainly have contributed. We were able to shoot 2 spring gobblers for awhile, and after the pipeline guys came through, we have more bobcats than ever. Im not sure about the bird flu, but it could have an effect as well. We dont get alot of migrating waterfowl, but i suppose it could be possible.

From: Olink
15-Feb-23
They are practically an endangered species here in SE PA. 20 years ago there was one behind every tree.

From: c5ken
15-Feb-23
Michigan turkey population still looks great.

15-Feb-23
I’m concerned because I have a lot of birds on and near me. I’m worried that there may be too many.

But luckily we have a lot of coyote hound hunters. That I welcome to hunt my place.

From: craigmcalvey
15-Feb-23
Seem to be stable here in Michigan. Have seen several flocks this winter. We are having one of the mildest winters I can recall and the deer and turkeys are thriving.

From: BOHUNTER09
15-Feb-23

BOHUNTER09's embedded Photo
BOHUNTER09's embedded Photo
I have 2 large turkey farms within 5 miles north and e of my house. Turkey population in the immediate area seemed to decline somewhat until 2020. Been on the upturn since. We have seen a huge increase in bobcats in the past 5 years. I’m concerned

15-Feb-23
Fields x2…. Few years ago turkeys all over the farm. Several flocks. Now, if you see one it’s like finding a gold nugget in a river. Back home in central mass my grandmother use to have 30-40 fly into her pines to sleep ever night all winter then occasionally all year long. Now she sees the occasional 3/4 birds and that’s it. Definitely not all predators in my mind…

From: Rut-N-Strut
15-Feb-23
Last two years I’ve hunted in FL,PA,SD,WY and MA. All states I have hunted in the past. I have noticed massive declines in every state except MA where I have seen an increase. Why is this? Has predation increased that much? I feel if it were bird flu there would be dead birds everywhere. I rarely see any while in the woods. I think there’s more to it. It’s been happening for a while now. I hope that more states get involved and do their own studies so we can figure this out and stop the decline

From: cnelk
15-Feb-23
What have you guys done for predator control this winter? Anything to help your turkeys?

From: tobywon
15-Feb-23
Decline in the areas I hunt as well, although I do have some Toms located in one spot. I don't know how poults survive with the amount of hawks and owls that I see around here now then years ago. I was coyote hunting on Saturday and a barred owl landed on a log right next to the caller.

From: Old School
15-Feb-23
Turkey population has been in decline in central MO where I hunt for years. It’s been at least 5 years since we had a good population of turkeys. Nobody knows what the root cause is. Conservation Dept is trying to get it figured out. Predators, wet springs, sickness, disease. Some combination of all the above. Who knows. All I know is that we used to hear 10 birds gobbling almost any morning you’d go out. Now it’s not uncommon to either not hear any or only hear one.

From: Fields
15-Feb-23
Predator control- easier said than done here... between posted property, hard to access areas, lack of success when I do it.... its easier to complain about no turkeys... LOL.. I only ever saw 2 coyotes while activity turkey hunting, so its not like they are behind every tree. I've never had any success while actually predator hunting. I will be the first to admit, I am not good at it at all, but I put in much time over the years... Trapping would be the best solution, but again, only limited success in my eyes, in the overall scheme. There's got to be more to it than an increase in predators.

From: Cobie33
15-Feb-23
The study that has been done here in SE Iowa that began in 2021 has shown poult recruitment at an all time low. Many hens where captured and had GPS transmitters placed on them before spring. Of the 70+ hens only a hand full completed the nesting cycle (less than 10), and the number of poults that survived three weeks after nesting was 7 I believe. The hens didn’t re-nest after predator disturbances or nest destruction as readily as previously thought. I believe it was 21% tried a second time. Predators were the main culprit from the study, mostly raccoons.

That doesn’t explain the large flock loss. I saw that in a couple areas I hunt, a couple of winter flocks in the 30-40 range just up a disappeared from October to February. Those places have sustained that many birds since I was a young kid 40 years ago. Always easily visible from the road too through out the year. I know they didn’t relocate anywhere too. It is strange.

From: PushCoArcher
15-Feb-23

PushCoArcher's embedded Photo
PushCoArcher's embedded Photo
PushCoArcher's embedded Photo
PushCoArcher's embedded Photo
Cnelk been after it for years and while I've seen improvements on my property the numbers are still down across the board. Not sure bird flu, west Nile, or something else is the culprit but something more then just predation is going on. Where's the NWTF? They should be a driving force behind trying to figure this out and getting state agencies to take a proactive stance and cooperate with each other. This isn't a new phenomenon been on a steady decline here in Oklahoma for at least a decade.

From: Ben
15-Feb-23
Funny, here in eastern Kansas we have a lot of turkeys and a growing flock.. While cooking breakfast yesterday 5 longbeards walked up our driveway and came with in 20 yards of the front door. Yesterday afternoon we had 16 in the front field. Should have a great season.

From: Murph
15-Feb-23
I believe here in Nebraska it’s a number of things predators, disease, as well as Neonicotinoids seen a deal on this the other day it’s the insecticide used on crop seed supposedly 5-7000x more potent then DDT which was outlawed, a guy in South Dakota did a lot of research on it in deer mostly but turkeys are also at the mercy from eating it to feeding on then Insects as well as finding it in the embryo in eggs which can terminate the whole clutch, scary shit IMO but not too many people are talking about it..

From: Jeff Durnell
15-Feb-23
Probably a combination of things.

Sure are a lot of predators around here nowadays, more than ive ever seen. Plus they've reintroduced fishers and now they want to reintroduce martins.

From: cnelk
15-Feb-23
My buddy in Upstate NY is doing his part with predators this winter. 18 coyotes and 3 fox. His goal is 35 coyotes

He bought a $3800 thermal scope - its a game changer with an ecaller. The videos he sends me are amazing.

So if youre serious about predator control for turkey, it can be done

From: Adam B
15-Feb-23
Nothing changed with predators in the three states I hunt sine fur prices crashed years ago. Population just plummeted 3-5 years ago.

From: cnelk
15-Feb-23

From: Grey Ghost
15-Feb-23
This is my place, at this time of year, about 10 years ago. The population has steadily declined since then. I have not seen a single turkey in the last 2 months this winter.

Something is killing them other than predators. The coyote numbers are down, rabbits everywhere, no raccoons, and very few hawks and owls. Matt

From: Medicinemann
15-Feb-23
My area (Chautauqua County) used to be the #1 county in the state for turkeys, based on harvest information. About ten years ago, we suddenly had a dramatic reduction in our turkey numbers. I never heard an explanation regarding the cause. What I can tell you, is that I started to plant a small corn field (1 acre) every year, and I started to trap aggressively. I focused on animals that ate the eggs, as well as animals that actually ate the birds. Just on the 130 acre area that I do a lot of my hunting on, I was catching a lot of fox (7-10), and even more raccoons (over a dozen), as well as a fisher or two every Fall. I would also catch an occasional skunk or possum. It took two years, but the difference has been VERY noticeable. There are three different flocks, probably totaling 50 birds.....just like the good old days. I don't dispute that wet Spring seasons may have also played a part in reduced turkey numbers.....as well as avian predators......but I would like to think that just the trapping and the extra corn food source hopefully made a difference,

From: petedrummond
15-Feb-23

petedrummond's embedded Photo
petedrummond's embedded Photo
This picture by trail cam is the LAST picture of any turkeys and i had pics every day previously . Its not about nesting success its like Jimmy Hoffa vanished w/o a trace.

From: petedrummond
15-Feb-23
Pic was August 18 2022

From: btnbuck
15-Feb-23
Ohio has gone to a 1 bird limit in the spring now. I never saw a gobbler last spring in northern central Ohio. The population in this area has really gone down in the last 10 years. I know there are hordes of racoons around now as nobody traps or hunts them much anymore except for nuisance issues. Seems I see several racoons each time I hunted last year. Lots of coyotes around and the red fox have rebounded well in the last 6 years or so around here also. Two years ago there was a farm I hunted and shot a gobbler the first day with six hens around. I hunted that farm the rest of the season and never saw/heard another tom but saw the hens every time I hunted. Lots of hawks/owls/eagles and other predators around but I think the avian/bird flu has not helped the situation IMHO.

15-Feb-23
It is a fact, Avian Influenza is at least one factor in the decline of wild turkeys and some other birds.

From: KHNC
15-Feb-23
My farm in SC is in the top 5 in the state for Turkey hunting ranking by county. I have finally attracted a few birds with my food plots be successful last fall. However, turkey numbers are WAY down in my county and SC in general. Very few birds compared to 7-8 years ago. SC has reduced tags, limited the daily take to one bird for first 10 days of season and increased NR cost to 100.00 for turkey tags , from 5.00 previously. Still on the decline for some reason but the NWTF is nearby , so they are trying at least.

From: BOHUNTER09
15-Feb-23
We can get up to 3 gobbler permits for spring and a fall gun season permit plus archery either sex tags in Illinois. I think the current population can’t support that kind of harvest. I’m committed to not taking more than one in my area

From: Smtn10PT
15-Feb-23
I believe nest predators are taking a huge toll on turkey numbers before any of the other factors can contribute to the decline. Look at the numbers being turned in on some of the weekend coon contests in Missouri! The most recent one I saw was 990 raccoons killed in a weekend. Thats a lot of nest predators taken out of the equation. The decline in the profitability in fur trapping is allowing these animals to really flourish. Luckily, they aren't too hard to trap and landowners who wish to reduce their numbers can easily catch a few and take some of the pressure off ground nesting birds in their immediate area.

From: PECO2
15-Feb-23
Turkey population seems to be increased the last few years here in my area of Colorado. I did see an article this morning that said bird flu affects mountain lions and bears. One mountain lion found dead, and they had to put a sick bear down.

15-Feb-23
I put out 4 dog proof coon traps Sunday on 100 acres here in SE MO. Nearly all timber. Monday got 3 coons. Tuesday got 1 coon and 2 skunks. Today another coon and 2 possums. I'm stunned at this catch rate with only 4 traps over 3 nights. It's a wonder there's a turkey left around here.

From: joehunter
15-Feb-23
It is Turkeys vs Raccoons, Opossums, Skunks, gray fox, red fox, coyotes, hawks, owls, crows, bobcats, house cats, dogs, human intrusion, draught, to much rain, avian flu - it is a wonder we have any birds make it to gobbling toms or nesting hens.

I start setting traps March 1 and i try to catch all the local vermin just prior and during nesting season. On my 10 acers here at my house in 2022 I killed 14 coons, 5 opposum, 5 crows, and one tom turkey.

15-Feb-23
To those noting all the predators, I think it’s a big part of it too.

From: Cobie33
15-Feb-23
The study that has been done here in SE Iowa that began in 2021 has shown poult recruitment at an all time low. Many hens where captured and had GPS transmitters placed on them before spring. Of the 70+ hens only a hand full completed the nesting cycle (less than 10), and the number of poults that survived three weeks after nesting was 7 I believe. The hens didn’t re-nest after predator disturbances or nest destruction as readily as previously thought. I believe it was 21% tried a second time. Predators were the main culprit from the study, mostly raccoons.

That doesn’t explain the large flock loss. I saw that in a couple areas I hunt, a couple of winter flocks in the 30-40 range just up a disappeared from October to February. Those places have sustained that many birds since I was a young kid 40 years ago. Always easily visible from the road too through out the year. I know they didn’t relocate anywhere too. It is strange.

15-Feb-23
I feel there are MANY variables starting from around 2008-2010. If it is the bird flu, then it hasn’t came to the forefront until now. Populations have been declining for a LONG time. To the point I stopped hunting them 10 years ago.

From: Cobie33
15-Feb-23

From: Cobie33
15-Feb-23
Strange double post?? From earlier today. In Iowa in the SE the bird numbers started falling in that same time frame, 2008-09. Wet springs were to blame so we thought, but the population just kept heading down to the point birds are hard to find on the properties I hunt down there where they were seemingly over run from the mid 90’s to about 2007. I am sure that weather, unknown disease, etc although the state collected legs from us hunters from all over the state for two years looking for disease. I believe it was in 2019-20. Any nothing conclusive was found from looking at them from disease standpoint.

16-Feb-23
Tell you in a couple weeks, when I start scouting…

From: Bigdog 21
16-Feb-23
Could of got bump out of area by predator are hunters, and found a safe place. March is coming get the boots and locater calls. Early morning are last light. Wouldn't be the first time I seen it happen, and for all to vanish at once would lead me to believe they got pushed. Been seeing a lot more bobcats, and gray fox's around. Both can climb a tree. Witch doesn't help the Turkey. Good luck hope they come back.

From: sundowner
16-Feb-23
It's the racoons and possums eating turkey eggs. That is our problem here. Not enough people hunting coins any more. And when coon hunter's dogs currently tree a possum, the hunters won't shoot it for fear of ruining their dogs (reward for doing the wrong thing).

Also, in my area predators seem to be more wary of trap sets. I've caught a lot of coyotes, bobcats and foxes over the years, but lately it has become more difficult, despite taking extra precautions with human scent on traps and around my sets. If anyone knows any trapping tricks using foothold traps and dirt hole or flat sets, please share. Snares are not allowed in land sets here.

From: Grey Ghost
16-Feb-23
The population decline is not predation or nest robbers in my area. In 23 years here, I've only seen 2 raccoons, no foxes, no possums, and only a few skunks and porcupines. Coyote numbers are way down from a decade ago. We do have a few owls and hawks, but nothing abnormal.

There's definitely something else going on here.

Matt

From: Blood
16-Feb-23
I wish we had a 1 bird a year limit…… you can kill 10 or more birds a year in CT now….. and our population is shrinking like everyone else. :(

From: tobywon
16-Feb-23
I have neighbors that cannot free range chickens or even have them in a fenced in pen without hawks, racoons, and fox getting in. I'm not saying that predation is the main factor, but it sure isn't helping where I reside. I cannot imagine how many poults are taken every year. I'll see some hens with a fair amount of poults and a few weeks later only one or two left or a hen that's alone.

From: Medicinemann
16-Feb-23
Last Spring, one of my neighbors had a hen that had at least 8 poults in late May. Two red tailed hawks built a nest on the edge of the very field that the hen and poults traversed daily. Over the course of two weeks, the hen's brood went from 8 to 0. I'm not saying that the hawk was solely responsible, but it bet that it had a significant impact.

16-Feb-23
Birds of prey probably kill more turkeys than anything.

From: 4nolz@work
16-Feb-23
Flu is not an issue in wild turkeys per the NWTF.Possibly in the close vicinity to poultry operations.

From: Bake
16-Feb-23
Predators HAVE to be an issue. maybe not the only issue. But an issue.

I live 2 1/2 miles down a country highway from a 4 lane highway. My neighbors killed 13 skunks along this stretch this last fall, and I bet I saw another 6-7 ran over on the road. Likewise, in my 2 1/2 mile drive, it's not uncommon for me to see between 3-7 red-tailed hawks visible along the highway.

Coons and possums? Forget about it. Everywhere. I used to feed barn cats under the yard light, and I'd kill a possum every 2-3 days. Last fall 3 different possums got into my dog pen (where they were of course immediately killed by my 2 labs).

Nest predators are ridiculous.

From: GFL
16-Feb-23
My Georgia farm went from 100 to 0 in less than a year.

From: tobywon
16-Feb-23

tobywon's embedded Photo
tobywon's embedded Photo
Red Tail with neighbors chicken. I assume poults have a bit more instincts built into them over chickens when it comes to predators, but the hawks are pretty efficient.

From: Cobie33
16-Feb-23

Cobie33's Link
I didn’t have all the specifics right but I was close. This article has some quick facts that are interesting on the Iowa study.

From: Sivart
16-Feb-23
In South Central Neb, our numbers are 20% of what they were in 2008. Game and fish confirms this.

Nest and carnivore predators are the same, if not less than they were then (2008). This tells me the die off came from disease or pesticide or both.

It really sucks. I love turkeys. like hunting them. I only let myself take one per year now. There was a time I would take multiple birds spring and fall. Does not seem right, given their current state.

16-Feb-23
Funny enough, this has been hashed out the last 3-5 years in different threads and discussions. Nobody has the glaring reason. Predation, disease, pesticides, hunting, poor hatching cycle due to weather… on and on. I just feel as conservationists, we all should do our part to let them live. Where there’s not turkeys in abundance, back off a bit and stop hunting them. Where bag limits haven’t been reduced by state agencies, limit yourself. And, do your part in killing predators within your time and abilities.

In areas where there’s disease, hopefully wildlife agencies, biologists, and the likes, can find out where this is linked. It’s all we can hope for, and it’s sad. The early 2000’s to about 2010 were the golden era, IMO.

From: Shiloh
16-Feb-23
Really hard to put a finger on. Down here we have had one of the top 3 hatches since they’ve been keeping records. The only thing that we don’t have in turkey rich areas down here is a strong farming presence. If you go to the delta the turkeys are hard to find. Beautiful portions of Arkansas are void of turkeys compared to the past, so that makes it hard to point at farming.

From: Franzen
18-Feb-23
Not only do you not have folks hunting nest robbers, the number of family farms raising small livestock herds has dwindled substantially. I can tell you, those folks just shot coons and grinners as pests; no such thing as a season to them. Don't need any hawks prowling the chicken coop either. Where's that now? Green jeans might have you staked out. It is likely only one piece of the overall puzzle of course, but a society reaps what it sows when all common sense is lost.

As far as grain/row crop farming goes, its hard to draw any sort of parallel to loss since we had farming here before we had a "modern" turkey population. Of course, there are always new chemicals, so one can't unequivocally state there is no relation.

From: Grey Ghost
18-Feb-23
All I know is, I saw my first 2 turkeys yesterday, during a period that I used to see 40-50 birds daily. Nothing has changed in terms of predators, if anything they have declined, too. The same rancher neighbors still run the same number of cattle, and farm the same acres. Hunting pressure is pretty much non-existent around here. I stopped hunting them 5 years ago, when I first started noticing the decline.

It is frustrating that this has been going on for about a decade, and we still have no definitive answers.

Matt

From: sasquatch
18-Feb-23
Plain and simple, good HABITAT.

We plow every once to feed the masses, and level every corner to house more and more people that also need bigger and bigger homes.

We pushing wildlife into essentially what is habitat corners for the predators to mop em up

From: Franzen
18-Feb-23
If you're not seeing the turkeys, that might also be the reason for your estimation that predators are declining. Even one food source lacking might be enough to get them searching elsewhere. That is not to say that other things are not in play, but it neither excludes the possibility that predators are part of the cause.

I can't imagine the dynamic in the West is all too similar to that in the East, but in my opinion, the population shouldn't be judged by presence of a winter flock or lack thereof. To me, winter flocks seem to be rather nomadic, and ever-changing cover and food sources might dictate a relocation.

From: Pat Lefemine
18-Feb-23
I have some of the best turkey hunting I've ever seen at my NY property. I kill two gobblers opening week every year with my bow. The population is incredible. I have a ton of coyotes, birds of prey, fishers, and bears. Very few coons however.

My property in Ohio is the complete opposite. I turkey hunted the first year and never saw a bird - not a gobbler, hen, nothing. I gave up and have never hunted turkeys again in Ohio. We have no bears, very few coyotes in our area, and no bird flu that I am aware of. What we do have is more coons than I have ever seen in my life. Those F'rs are everywhere. I can't help but think they are a big part of the problem!

From: Grey Ghost
18-Feb-23
"I can't imagine the dynamic in the West is all too similar to that in the East, but in my opinion, the population shouldn't be judged by presence of a winter flock or lack thereof."

You are correct, the dynamics are completely different. We don't really have seasonal flocks around here. The birds are here year around, or used to be. They tend to consolidate on my property because I have some of the best roosting trees for miles. The video I posted above *was* a daily occurrence in the winter, every winter. Not any more.

And again, we don't have the predators and nest robbers that are common in the midwest and eastern states. It's been almost 20 years since I've seen a coon on my property. Possoms and fishers don't live here. I've never seen a fox on my property, either. We do have coyotes and birds of prey, but we've always had those, and their numbers haven't really changed. If anything we have fewer coyotes than 10 years ago.

Maybe it's just a natural cycle of some kind. When we first move here in 2000, the turkeys were just getting started. Each year their numbers grew until around 2012, then the decline started. As a side note, when we first moved here, I rarely saw rabbits. Recently, there are rabbits everywhere. Go figure.....

Matt

From: Mad Trapper
20-Feb-23
I haven’t seen a bird since September. Trapped a fair amount of egg eaters this fall and three fishers. We have a lot of red tails though. Saw a bald eagle today. Our population has been on a steady decline over the past decade. Pa game commission says that the population is doing fine. Go figure.

From: Kydeer1
20-Feb-23
Seems to be a lot of interest in seed coatings contributing to turkey deaths lately too. Who knows what the real reason is as I can't think of really much new it todays time vs in the past though. Interesting to see what the studies say for the future

20-Feb-23
I remember a study the NWTF did about 20 years ago. It noted that in declining populations , there is an alarming amount of hens that don’t even nest. I can’t remember all the details. Just that part of it. Maybe a more dedicated member can chime in.

20-Feb-23
I’ve been seeing a lot more rabbit and Hare here too Matt…. Complete opposite side of the country as you buy as our turkey numbers have gone down rabbits and (some) hare (not a ton) are going up. Seems I bust a bunch of cottontails out every time I go for a walk.

From: Mathewsphone
20-Feb-23
Nebraska Kansas and eastern colo got hit pretty hard

From: drycreek
20-Feb-23
We don’t have native turkeys here in East Texas, but I had a lease for many years in Central Texas. Our turkey population rose and fell with annual rainfall as did our quail numbers. Drought hit the quail harder than the turkeys because we had the Colorado River on our western boundary and the turkeys roosted there. The other side of the river was farm land and that created better conditions for the turkeys. Turkeys are much more nomadic than quail and are quite adept at bugging. But…. no rain, fewer bugs for the poults to eat. We had a plethora of coons, skunks, possums, bobcats and foxes. No coyotes until about the last 2/3 years when we began to see scat in the roads. The rancher’s SIL trapped for about three years there and that helped too. We always had turkeys but you could see the results of a good rainfall year.

From: Smtn10PT
21-Feb-23
Used to be a lot more small dairy farms in my area and they would spread manure once or twice a day. In the winter you could count on finding birds going through where they just spread and picking out grains. With the decline in dairy farming and the remaining ones all on manure management plans where they store it in huge ponds and spread only a few times a year it has forced the birds to find other sources of winter food.

From: APauls
21-Feb-23

APauls's embedded Photo
These bastards have taken up the round bale I was feeding all winter as their nightly post and just wait for the deer to come to them.
APauls's embedded Photo
These bastards have taken up the round bale I was feeding all winter as their nightly post and just wait for the deer to come to them.
APauls's embedded Photo
This was basically the day a coyote discovered the idea. Now there are 3 there every night. Started with one.
APauls's embedded Photo
This was basically the day a coyote discovered the idea. Now there are 3 there every night. Started with one.
I think there are going to be a lot of changes over time due to the death of trapping.

Just think big picture. Over the last couple hundred years hunting and trapping were a big part of Canada/USA. Suddenly over the past I'd say 20 years trapping has all but fallen off the map. Sure, the odd guy is doing it, but we know that trapping (short of cyanide) is the single most effective method of controlling predators. Pelts are near worthless now in the grand scheme of things, and predators have next to no control.

Coyotes, coons, skunks are about as adaptive and suited to living alongside man as they come. Any animal that doesn't do well alongside Coyotes and coons will likely long term suffer. I just think of how smart they are and how quickly coyotes discovered this round bale, and that deer are coming to it. Now they use it like a blind and wait for deer to come.

From what I've read about turkeys, they really need that "in between" kind of grassy pasture type ground to raise chicks. Our lands these days have no "In-between." It's either bush, or fields or houses. Unlimited predators, very limited habitat and you've got a bad decline incoming. You don't notice the decline as bad at first because it is exponential. One raccoon being responsible for 50/1,000 birds doesn't seem that bad, but when the population is cut in half and that same coon continues to be responsible for 50 young turkeys, now he's pulled out 10%, and it just crashes from there.

From: Sivart
21-Feb-23
I don't disagree that nest predators have a huge impact. However, our bird numbers were at record highs 2008. We actually had more nest predators then, than we do now. My areas haven't been trapped for 40 years. Our local coon population has naturally decreased. Not sure why.

Therefore, my thoughts are there is something else that is causing/caused the mass die off. JMO, I'm not a biologist. And all of the bioligists that I've talked to have different opinions.

From: Grey Ghost
21-Feb-23
I agree, Sivart. My area probably hasn't been trapped in 70 years, if ever. We just don't have enough fur bearing critters to make it worthwhile.

Over the 23 years we've owned our property, very little has changed in terms of human population or activities. Over that period, I've witnessed several changes to the wildlife populations. Deer, turkey, and coyote numbers are all down. Antelope and rabbit numbers have exploded. The elk that winter here seem to be doing well. Birds of prey and other bird numbers seem to be about the same. We do occasionally have a bear or mountain lion around, but they are very rare.

I'm no biologist either, but viewing wildlife is a daily thing for me. It doesn't take a biology degree to recognize changes in wildlife over years of observations in the same neck of the woods.

Matt

From: Michael
21-Feb-23
I can 2nd that Nebraska has been in decline since around 2008.

I hunt SE Nebraska and the numbers are a fraction of what they were back then.

I had just chalked it up to nest robbers and birds of prey. With a close second being coyotes. Coyote numbers were down back then do to mange. Another factor is less CRP around in that area.

From: Old School
21-Feb-23
I believe it’s a combination of many factors. It’s not just an over abundance of predators - we’ve had that for 20+ yrs.

From: Iowa_Archer
21-Feb-23
Also in SE Iowa...we used to have loads of turks on our place and everywhere around us too. But about 12-13 years ago they started to fade away and fade away fast. For the last 10'ish years we have probably 10% - 15% around like we did "back in the day".

Why? I too am in the camp of..."there are multiple things going on". Yes, nest predators are at all time highs and are no doubt some part of the equation. This time period also correlates perfectly with the rise of the local bobcat population and I think they are part of it too. We also had some very wet springs back then too, surely reducing the nesting success rate. But even those factors don't seem to me to be the whole story. I can tell you that when we first started seeing the precipitous decline we commonly found many dead ADULT turkeys in multiple places on the farm...and...neighbors were seeing the same thing. So...wet nesting periods and greater numbers of nest predators, etc, cannot explain dead ADULT birds...but yes, those factors can certainly limit the "rebound" and probably has. I don't have the answer(s), but I too am very suspicious of the potential impact of chemical/seed treatments...as I don't see very many insects around these days and it has been years since I have seen a young flock chasing grasshoppers across a field, etc. I hope we can find the answers...I miss a good spring turkey hunt.

From: welka
16-Mar-23
5-10 years ago, we had LOTs of turkeys. As I planted more corn for deer, the coons moved in and exploded. Down went the turkey population - dramatically. Trapped over 100 coons the last 2 years and already seeing step change in the number of birds. Have been trapping coyotes the entire 10 years, so largest impact seems to be the coon trapping. Good luck.

16-Mar-23
Anyone ever think of eagles? They showed up here about the time the turkey population started to drop back off. A hen or chick out in the open doesn’t seem like it would be too hard for an eagle to pick off. I’ve never actually seen it happen but the timing is correct for explosion of eagles and downturn of turkeys. We have found a few pile of turkey feathers right out in the middle of corn and bean fields where they should have been relatively safe from most predators.

From: APauls
16-Mar-23
It's prob cause of guys like Pat that think you can catch and release turkeys. Doesn't work that way.

From: fuzzy
20-Mar-23
The primary nest predators for turkey in the eastern US are opossum and raccoon. Nest predation has a huge impact on population.

From: Robear
20-Mar-23
My opinion, at least here is SE Ohio is that our lack of birds in the last couple of years is just because of weather related poor hatches. The predators have been numerous for a long time, even when we had tons of birds. Last spring we had very good weather in the hatching season. Boom, we have turkeys again. At least here in my little corner of the world.

From: Shiloh
20-Mar-23
MS just recorded its 3rd best hatch since record keeping started. I agree with Robear. Do the best you can with habitat and predators and hope for good spring weather. I have heard some talk that all the season date changes are not having such a positive effect. And then there’s Arkansas and I have no theory there.

20-Mar-23
Catch and release hahahah good one Apauls lol

From: saXton
20-Mar-23
Saw more healthy polts last spring than in 8-9 years. Biggest winter flocks in about the same time frame. jj

From: Huntiam
21-Mar-23
I noticed the same Saxton ! Best hatch I remember for many,many, many yrs was last yr

From: fuzzy
21-Mar-23
Turkey are on the upswing in Bland too.

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