Although the information is anecdotal, some turkey hunters have hope for improved turkey populations during future spring seasons.
“It is too early to know for sure, but anecdotally poult production seems to be better in several parts of the state,” said Kevin Lowrey, WRD’s wild turkey project manager. “The Lower Coastal Plain and Ridge and Valley seem to be doing well. Other areas of the state are similar to recent years or a little better. We will have to collect and analyze all of the date to be able to tell what is really happening.”
To gauge poult-hatching success, WRD biologists look at the poults-per-hen number in a survey conducted by DNR employees during the summer months. The survey ended Aug. 30, 2018, but the information won’t be compiled and analyzed until later on this fall.
Melvin Caldwell, of Columbus, hunts in Marion County, which is in the Upper Coastal Plain, and recently sent several trail-camera pictures of hens with a number of poults.
“It’s the best hatches I have seen in years,” said Melvin. “I’ve got different groups, three hens with 17 poults and four hens with a number of poults. I did see two baby chicks only days old the first of August.”
GON freelance writer Donald Jarrett is hearing from hunters who have reported “really good numbers of poults with hens from some people in north Georgia. That’s encouraging! In Putnam County, I’ve seen several poults throughout the summer in some areas and then in others I’ve seen quite a few lone hens, which is not what you want to see. However, when I have seen poults, they’ve been on the high side, like seven to 10 together, which is good news.”
A hunter was in the GON office in Morgan County the other day and reported consistently seeing gobblers, hens and lots of poults in places that he hasn’t seen birds at in more than 10 years.
“One thing different this year is all the rain we’ve had,” said Kevin. “Typically, we associate rain with being bad for nesting and poult survival. Actually you need rain to grow the brood-rearing habitat that attracts insects and hides poults, increasing their survival. You just don’t need too much rain when the poults are hatching. Rain can also cause nesting hens to stink (think wet dog), which can increase predation. But rain can also speed the green-up period, providing cover that can reduce predation. Hopefully some parts of the state have found that sweet spot with just enough rain at the right time.”
If this summer’s hatch was indeed good, it’ll mean a lot of jakes in the woods during the spring of 2019 and a strong number of loud-mouthed 2-year-old gobblers during 2020.
If you have a turkey poult report for your county, please comment below, or email email@example.com. If you send a poult report by email, include your name, hometown and the county you are reporting from. Pictures are welcome with your emailed reports.