Mathews Inc.
Wish I was at my farm when this happened
Turkey
Contributors to this thread:
Pat Lefemine 27-Mar-23
Pat Lefemine 27-Mar-23
Pat Lefemine 27-Mar-23
Pat Lefemine 27-Mar-23
Fields 27-Mar-23
cnelk 27-Mar-23
hawkeye in PA 27-Mar-23
fdp 27-Mar-23
Pat Lefemine 27-Mar-23
DanaC 27-Mar-23
Paul@thefort 27-Mar-23
MA-PAdeerslayer 27-Mar-23
molsonarcher 27-Mar-23
buckeye 27-Mar-23
Coop 27-Mar-23
Old School 27-Mar-23
Thornton 27-Mar-23
Bent arrow 27-Mar-23
Charlie Rehor 27-Mar-23
fdp 27-Mar-23
elkpacker 27-Mar-23
MA-PAdeerslayer 27-Mar-23
Matt 27-Mar-23
Smtn10PT 28-Mar-23
Missouribreaks 28-Mar-23
Huntiam 28-Mar-23
Pat Lefemine 28-Mar-23
Buckdeer 28-Mar-23
Thornton 28-Mar-23
Squash 28-Mar-23
Smtn10PT 28-Mar-23
Pat Lefemine 28-Mar-23
blue spot 28-Mar-23
From: Pat Lefemine
27-Mar-23

Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Got these pics today from Moultrie Mobile. The OH turkey population is awful, I won't even hunt them. This doesn't help.

From: Pat Lefemine
27-Mar-23

Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo

From: Pat Lefemine
27-Mar-23

Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo

From: Pat Lefemine
27-Mar-23

Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo

From: Fields
27-Mar-23
Looks like the turkeys won this round... sooner or later, unfortunately, they lose.

From: cnelk
27-Mar-23
There’s a couple techniques over on the wolf thread that will help reduce those pesky flea dogs.

27-Mar-23
They can't read either?

From: fdp
27-Mar-23
The predation of the eggs is a much bigger issue than the predation of the grown birds typically.

From: Pat Lefemine
27-Mar-23
Agree, and we have more coons than I've ever seen. That can't help.

From: DanaC
27-Mar-23
Incident a few years back, here in central MA, coyotes got a calling hen one morning. (Place I drove by on my daily commute.) It's not just an OH problem.

From: Paul@thefort
27-Mar-23
An interesting prospective: The restoration of the wild turkey to North America during the latter half of the 20th Century is a wildlife management success story like none other. Working cooperatively, state wildlife agencies and the National Wild Turkey Federation reintroduced turkeys to not only nearly all of the bird’s former historic range, but even into some areas where turkeys had never lived. In short, it was a tremendous accomplishment.

But over the last two decades the flocks in eastern North America have gradually thinned considerably, my home state of Ohio being a microcosm of the situation. The history of the wild turkey in the Buckeye State is one of boom and bust.

A bird of mature woodlands, turkeys thrived in pre-settlement times when the state was 95 percent forested. Just how many wild turkeys existed in the Ohio country hundreds of years ago is anyone’s guess—as high as a million, perhaps?

“One million is possible,” said Mark Wiley, wild turkey biologist with the Ohio DNR, Division of Wildlife. “But it’s very difficult to say for sure.”

Regardless of the number, everything changed within a 150-year period from 1750 to 1900 when Ohio lost all but about 10 percent of its woodlands to timbering, farming and development. As a result, the state also lost all of its wild turkeys. The last bird was thought extirpated by 1904, a victim not only of habitat loss but unregulated hunting, as well.

However, the woods gradually began to grow back—Ohio is now one-third forested again—and in the 1950s wildlife biologists began reintroducing wild turkeys captured in other states to fill the empty habitat. The birds literally took off, reaching an estimated modern-day high of more than 200,000 in the early 2000s. The statewide spring harvest reached its peak in 2001, with Ohio hunters reporting more than 26,000 birds taken. Compare that to the paltry 11,872 turkeys reported taken during the recent 2022 spring hunting season, and the extent of the problem becomes apparent.

Nearly all eastern U.S. states are experiencing similar population declines. In the West, however, wild turkey numbers are stable if not increasing, even in some of those areas that historically didn’t support turkeys. Dr. Mike Chamberlain is a nationally respected wild turkey biologist at the University of Georgia, has studied turkeys for more than 25 years, and is a longtime turkey hunter. With all that professional and personal knowledge under his belt, he believes he knows why America is losing its wild turkeys.

“There is no single smoking gun. Rather, it’s death by a thousand cuts,” Chamberlain said. The following are his five main reasons why he thinks wild turkey populations are struggling:

1. Habitat: “As with any wildlife population, suitable habitat is key, and turkey habitat in the East is suffering in several ways,” said Chamberlain. “Turkeys are inextricably linked to hardwood forest, and the amount of that habitat is decreasing. Land is also being converted to the types of habitats that are not conducive to turkeys, such as pine plantations in the southeast. In other words, the birds are trying to survive in poor-quality woodlands.”

Chamberlain added that woodlands are also becoming more fragmented and separated from one another, resulting in little to no opportunity for the remaining turkey flocks to intermingle and exchange genetics, keeping the overall population healthy.

2. Predation: “Across North America,” continued Chamberlain, “we’ve seen changes in the distribution and abundance of predators: raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, raptors (hawks and owls), and certain reptiles such as rat snakes that eat turkey eggs. The current predation rate on turkey nests is higher than it was 20 years ago.”

3. Harvest: “Harvest matters,” said Chamberlain. “It matters when a hunter kills a bird and it also matters at what rate birds are harvested. The paradigm that has guided turkey harvest in the past is now outdated. If a particular state is killing more than 30 percent of the male turkeys in its population annually, that rate is no longer sustainable.”

4. Disease: “The problem with disease is that we don’t understand the complexities of it on the landscape level,” Chamberland said. “For instance, if a bird sickens and dies, we don’t know what happened or why. And some viruses have the potential to affect reproduction; we just don’t yet understand the magnitude of it all. Diseases can also be prevalent in some areas and not in others. It’s a difficult question to get a handle on and needs more study.”

5. Hunters: If you’re a turkey hunter, Chamberlain’s last comments may surprise you. “It’s us,” he said, “meaning turkey hunters. It’s our current mindset, our current perspective, our current expectations. We are the ones who will determine the future of this bird. If we are willing to give more than we take, then there is hope for the wild turkey we all love.

“In the future, sportsmen are going to have to sacrifice for the good of the resource. Which may mean only taking one bird per hunter per spring season. And that would mean a major change of thinking in some hunters’ minds and the minds of state fish and game agency personnel who set the hunting regulations.”

Established wildlife populations are naturally dynamic—constantly fluctuating—and some biologists believe that is what the wild turkey is currently experiencing. But the fact that the changes are occurring simultaneously over a large region of our country makes that theory somewhat doubtful.

Another theory that would explain the decline in turkey numbers is one that affects all wildlife populations introduced into suitable new habitat. For a time, the population expands exponentially; but it then eventually peaks and declines to a more sustainable level, determined by the amount and quality of the given habitat. Is that what’s now happening? Biologists simply do not yet know, or possibly can’t yet agree.

Regardless, Chamberlain concluded with this sobering thought. “I believe we are entering a new normal when it comes to wild turkeys. In my estimation, we are never going back to where we were in 1995.”

27-Mar-23
When’s the coyote season out there Pat?

From: molsonarcher
27-Mar-23
MA-PA, no closed season. Fair game year round.

Pat, ya gotta trap some of those coons! In a couple days time you could really put the hurt to ‘em and help the turkey population

From: buckeye
27-Mar-23
Coyote season is year round here in Ohio. I wish the fur market would come back like it was 30 or 40 years ago. That would help the turkey alot .

From: Coop
27-Mar-23
I typically experience call shy birds now more than ever. If I do call more than likely a yote comes in. I've killed a couple turkey hunting.

From: Old School
27-Mar-23
I would guess that coons do a lot more damage to the Turkey population than the coyotes do, but I don’t have a peer reviewed study to back it - just my opinion.

From: Thornton
27-Mar-23
Most of the studies I've seen have suspected disease to be the culprit. Here in KS, turkeys do well in pastures if they have a few trees to roost in and do not require forested woodlots. We've always had predators, and coon hunting hasn't been popular here since the 80's. In the 90's my area had so many turkeys the biologist were charge net trapping them and sending them to states that had none. Biggest winter flock I saw had about 300 birds. Wasn't uncommon to have a dozen different gobblers back then around one alfalfa field gobbling in the morning. Now, our numbers are way down and they reduced fall tags. I had a few on my farm last spring and never even bought a tag numbers everywhere else were so low. Oklahoma also reduced their tags due to low numbers. There is also some thought that herbicides are slowly rendering game birds sterile as Roundup has been proven to do this to bees and butterflies. Not to mention the planted corn and soybean seed they dig up and eat is covered in an herbicide neonictide coating.

From: Bent arrow
27-Mar-23
Don't matter about fur prices. Go out and get rid of em. I trap to help the game animals. Not to get rich. Get into yote huntin. Put a hurt on em all.

27-Mar-23
Birds of prey also get a lot of the young poults.

From: fdp
27-Mar-23
Pat around the place a that I had down in Pike County Ohio the raccoons and the foxes were devastating to the Turkey egg drop. It was hard to believe.

From: elkpacker
27-Mar-23
to many turkeys here in Eastern WA-65% success rate.

27-Mar-23
Sounds like some coyote hunting is in order pat. And start getting rid of those coons

From: Matt
27-Mar-23
“Birds of prey also get a lot of the young poults.”

Here in CA one pair of golden eagles has single-handedly devastated the population on a ranch I used to hunt. Don’t even feel good about hunting them up there anymore.

From: Smtn10PT
28-Mar-23
You need a good trapper. Taking out the pair right before they have pups is the best way to create a temporary void and give local wildlife a brief reprieve from predation.

28-Mar-23
I agree, too much predation, including humans.

From: Huntiam
28-Mar-23
Kill 2 the last bitch dog will have 12 they here to stay

From: Pat Lefemine
28-Mar-23

Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Despite this pic, coyotes are not that bad at my Ohio farm. We hunt them all year at night over baits with thermals and suppressors. I’ll go months without seeing one on cam or hearing a howl. This one will be eliminated as soon as I get back there to plant in April.

Raccoons, on the other hand, are awful. Tons of them. I’m sure they’re hard on the nests. Wish they had a 12 month season. I shot 20 last season and never made a dent.

From: Buckdeer
28-Mar-23
I think bobcats kill more than coyotes but some of you guys might check with local trappers,maybe at least they will take animal.I know guys that are selling skulls also

From: Thornton
28-Mar-23
Good to see you finally got a suppressor Pat

From: Squash
28-Mar-23
Pat, what make and model thermal scope ?

From: Smtn10PT
28-Mar-23
Huntiam

Im not saying you will eliminate them but by taking out the pair during denning season when coyotes are more locked into their core areas you provide a brief void of predation. They are at the low point of their population cycle right now and if you can knock a few more off it will make a difference. Any little bit helps.

From: Pat Lefemine
28-Mar-23

Pat Lefemine's Link
Squash, it’s an AGM-384 Rattler

From: blue spot
28-Mar-23
Pat, You need to host a trapping competition between a couple of the bowsite trappers of which we appear to have a few. If grand prize was getting to hunt your property I bet there would be a serious pile of nest robbers put up ! The trapping event would be more than worthy of a "live hunt".

Erik

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