Turkey hunters should expect to hear more of those half-gobbling jakes rattling the woods this spring, according to WRD’s annual poult survey. In fact, with a statewide average of “1.7 poults/hen,” it’s the best hatch success WRD has recorded since 2011.
“I’m certainly glad to see poult numbers up again this year,” said GON turkey freelance writer Donald Devereaux Jarrett, of Eatonton. “Any seasoned turkey hunter can tell you that having more jakes in the woods this spring will mean for a vocal spring in 2018 as 2-year-old gobblers compete for their first year to breed. It’s been a while since we’ve had a spring where good numbers of 2-year-olds gobbled their heads off at any call you threw out there.”
Donald authors GON’s annual Turkey Special in the March issue and spends some time interviewing WRD’s Kevin Lowrey, who is the state’s wild turkey project coordinator and an avid turkey hunter himself.
“Reproduction in 2016 was the best since 2011, and I am expecting 2017 to be a better season. I am hopeful we can build on the recent reproductive success,” said Kevin.
Kevin mostly hunts Chattahoochee National Forest and WMA lands in northeast Georgia where lives.
“What I think we experienced from 2012-2015 was relatively high harvest combined with low reproduction, causing a short term population decline,” said Kevin. “So, we have lived off the surplus birds, and it finally caught up to us in the spring of 2016. The good news is that I think we are starting to tick back in the other direction. Reproduction in 2015 was much improved in many parts of the state, even though still low, and harvest was low in 2016. I think last season would have been better if the second and third weeks were not rained out.
“Jakes represented 11 percent of the 2016 harvest. We usually have a good spring season when jake harvest is 9 percent or higher the previous season.”
Donald’s full Turkey Special, which includes turkey poult data for the different regions of Georgia, will appear in the March issue of GON.