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2016 Alabama Digest Turkey Talk

Hunting Regulations Icon Alabama Hunting & Fishing

We need your help to determine peak gobbling during the spring season!

These are just a few of the questions turkey hunters in Alabama may help in answering. The Avid Turkey Hunter Survey launched in 2014 provides a means for hunters to record data during daily outings. Turkey hunters log the number of turkeys gobbling, number of gobbles heard, turkeys seen, and harvest information. The survey is a win-win for Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) and hunters. Biologists can track gobbling activity trends regionally while record keeping allows hunters to be better attuned to hunting trends on their own property. Hunters who participate in these type programs have the satisfaction of knowing they are contributing to wildlife management and the decision making process in Alabama. To qualify to be part of the avid turkey hunter team, you must hunt at least 10 days of the spring season. WFF staff welcomes new participants. Just email Steve Barnett (steve.barnett@dcnr.alabama.gov) or Joel Glover (joel.glover@dcnr.alabama.gov) to sign up.

The results of the Avid Turkey Hunter Survey are published in an annual wild turkey report. Brood survey data collected by WFF staff and selected public participants to monitor regional and statewide reproduction trends are included in the report as well. Even though the data from the avid turkey hunter and brood surveys are observational rather than scientific, there is significant value in monitoring trends in gobbling activity and nesting success over time. Importantly, the value of these surveys increases as the sample size of active participants increases. Although the total number of participants is close to 700 and growing, we would like to shoot for about 10% of turkey hunters in the state which would be a target of about 5,600 (10 year average from mail survey is close to 56,000 hunters). It is too early to draw any conclusions from the data yet, but an encouraging sign is an increase in the number of jake observations. So far, peak gobbling statewide has been the third week of the season (in areas that open March 15) but that is just of couple of seasons to compare and not sufficient to reflect a trend. The more participants who are submitting accurate data, the more valid will be the results.

The new Full Fans & Sharp Spurs publication debuted last year and hardcopies were provided to all participants who submitted data. The link to the electronic version is found at http://www.outdooralabama.com/wild-turkey. In addition to the avid turkey hunter and brood survey results, the report contains timely information on public turkey hunting areas and various articles on turkey management and research. Important updates of the Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) are also included. The Alabama Chapter NWTF continues to be a major player in wildlife conservation in the state. The strength of this partnership is clearly evident in dollar contributions. For example, the state chapter donated over $126,000 for wild turkey habitat enhancement, research, land acquisition and educational programs in 2015. They are also the lead non-governmental organization (NGO) sponsor of Auburn University’s new turkey research project and the Full Fans & Sharp Spurs publication.

Our common goal in Alabama’s turkey management vision is to maintain high wild turkey populations in ever-changing landscapes while sustaining high gobbler harvests. It will take a collaborative effort between the state agency, university researchers, NGOs, hunters, and landowners to make this happen. The glue that will hold this effort together is support from a very key element which is you, our public constituents. Please support conservation of wild turkeys in Alabama!

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