Doomed by Drought
Meanwhile, across the Rio Grande subspecies’s range in Texas, the persistent drought has reportedly completely crushed poult production proving that it’s not only heavy rains and cold temperatures that threaten newly hatched turkeys.
Shannon Tompkins of the Houston Chronicle writes,”Also, this year’s turkey hatch in much of the Rio Grande subspecies’ range took a dive. Many hens came out of a dry winter and early spring in such poor physical condition that they didn’t nest.
“Rio Grande hens that did nest faced problems because of lack of ground moisture, a factor in keeping eggs viable during nesting. Also, lack of ground cover increased predation on nesting hens.
“Poults that hatched generally had a tough time finding green vegetation and insects. They grew slowly, and that put them at increased risk of mortality. Poult deaths are highest between the time the turkeys hatch and the time they grow large and strong enough to roost with adults in trees. The poor forage base meant poults took longer to grow big enough to roost off the ground and out of harm’s way.”
Reports are much the same out of San Antonio where the San Antonio Express reports that while overall populations are still plentiful, reproduction this year was quite poor.
As Wisconsin prepares to make available the most fall turkey permits ever, part of the reasoning is that a good season is expected.
The Appleton Post Crescent quotes Scott Hull, turkey biologist with the DNR:
“We are offering more fall turkey permits than ever, and everything points to a pretty good season,” Hull said. “We’re just starting to get reports back from field personnel, and the early brood surveys look good. We’ve had reports of some broods with 6-7 poults. That’s pretty good.”
Ben Moyer with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that in Pennsylvania “brood survival this summer appears excellent,” reversing a trend in recent years, while in New Hampshire, Bob Washburn notes in the Concord Monitor things could be much worse.
Broods actually survived the heavy rains of late spring much better than anticipated. He writes, “A sample of 16 hatches in June totaled 16 hens and 90 poults, for an average of 5.62 poults per hen.”
This news could bode well for my friend Gerry and other New England hunters.
I’ll have more reports from other states and regions as the week continues. Stay tuned and let us know what you’re seeing out there as you begin to do a little preseason deer scouting and putting up those stands.
It’s hard for me to comprehend that if I were still living in South Carolina right now as I did before coming to NYC, I would be actually sitting in a deer stand hunting in another nine steaming days. For those of us non-South Carolinians who deer hunt (which I bet there are a lot of us) the season still seems a good ways away. It actually isn’t though and fall turkey seasons will also be upon us in know time.
(Photo courtesy of VAturkey.com)