Three strikes and the turkeys are out

There has been a lot of talk amongst local hunters about recent changes being made across the state that reduce the bag limit and length of the fall turkey hunting season. While some don’t mind the changes too much, others are quite upset and want answers.

To any regular hunter in these parts, the drop in our local turkey population was obvious and alarming. Wild turkey were once eliminated from our landscape, and after the efforts of state and private groups they finally became reintroduced almost half a century ago. The restoration efforts continued until stable populations were achieved statewide. About 15 years ago hunters and animal lovers saw turkey numbers beginning to decrease; there were varied opinions as to what happened to the birds, but nearly everyone knew something should be done. In the last five years a steady decline in birds has us all worried and ready to do something about it. The only problem is figuring out what to do with such varying opinions and information being published.

I decided once again to ask a bunch of hunters and outdoor types what they think happened to the turkeys. The last time I did this, I was contacted by two people offering great information on the topic and giving me material for next week’s column. There is much debate and speculation on this topic and I expect to receive plenty enough feedback for another column.

There were three different scenarios as to what has caused the drastic decline. The first and most common response to my question was predation. The second most common response was the weather, the last was human hunting pressure. The first task to solving a problem such as this is identifying what is causing it in the first place. These all seemed like valid arguments and could easily cause reduction issues, so I took a deeper look into them.

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