News from the 2013 brood survey is not good for Mississippi’s turkey and turkey hunters, according to the biologists who head the program for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
After one of the best years ever reported in 2012, the state has seen a 43-percent drop in the hatch on a statewide basis.
“We witnessed our best hatch in over a decade last summer, but unfortunately it was followed up with a decreased hatch in most areas this year,” said David Godwin, the MDWFP’s wild turkey program coordinator.
Godwin said the proportion of hens observed with young in 2013 declined 43 percent from 2012, and the average brood size was substantially lower, as well.
The brood survey is an annual event, enlisting numerous observers who note all turkeys seen during the three-month survey period. The resulting information allows turkey biologists to measure reproductive success and gives hunters an objective look at how turkeys are faring across the state.
Turkey program biologist Adam Butler is hopeful the falling numbers could be a product of the 2012 successes. It could have skewed 2013 numbers in favor of juvenile hens, who nest less often and without as much success as mature hens.
As for other factors, Butler said it was just a weird spring.
“We had an unusual spring this year,” he said. “Springtime nesting activity seemed delayed as a result of the late winter and cool spring, and the later the birds get started nesting, the worst they tend to do.”
Butler said untimely rains during the nesting and early brooding period probably didn’t help.
More information on Mississippi’s wild turkey can be found here.