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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Got a little info this weekend while visiting the New Turkey coordinator with the Game and Fish. They have already set a tentative time for the 2013 season to open unless something major changes. It is April 20th on a Saturday.........:skeptical: The reasoning I was given was that as of now, the info they have to go by is that the hens are only about 20% bread at the current opening dates and by waiting another week the numbers will be around 40 %. I pressed them on the issue about not taking Jakes and allowing those as breeding stock, if that would not be enough. Also if the hens bread once, if this was not adequate for a entire clutch. Also if their data was solid on the percentages bread on this date. Was their data founded on second nesting efforts or first attempt efforts.........:shrug: I got no solid answers on those questions except that going by the data they have received from the Muddy study in the 90's and the poult counts they were getting now was what they were biasing their decisions on. Our current NWTF Biologist did step up and say that one breeding has been shown to handle as many a 3 clutches of eggs. I was also told that they could only control 2 things, opening dates and harvest numbers. I disagreed and mentioned predator factors and supplemental feeding issues but got little input on the predator issue and only that Supplemental feeding should be stopped, but that was up to hunters as of now. My confidence in the current thought process of the Game and Fish is dropping like a rock day by day. No strong leadership to make bold decisions that could positively affect our overall turkey population seems to be in place. I have also heard that the commissioners are looking into this situation again......Just be prepared for anything next year if this happens and set up your hunting trips for further north unless some decisions are altered between now and then ( which is very possible).
 

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Got a little info this weekend while visiting the New Turkey coordinator with the Game and Fish. They have already set a tentative time for the 2013 season to open unless something major changes. It is April 21st on a Saturday.........:skeptical: The reasoning I was given was that as of now, the info they have to go by is that the hens are only about 20% bread at the current opening dates and by waiting another week the numbers will be around 40 %. I pressed them on the issue about not taking Jakes and allowing those as breeding stock, if that would not be enough. Also if the hens bread once, if this was not adequate for a entire clutch. Also if their data was solid on the percentages bread on this date. Was their data founded on second nesting efforts or first attempt efforts.........:shrug: I got no solid answers on those questions except that going by the data they have received from the Muddy study in the 90's and the poult counts they were getting now was what they were biasing their decisions on. Our current NWTF Biologist did step up and say that one breeding has been shown to handle as many a 3 clutches of eggs. I was also told that they could only control 2 things, opening dates and harvest numbers. I disagreed and mentioned predator factors and supplemental feeding issues but got little input on the predator issue and only that Supplemental feeding should be stopped, but that was up to hunters as of now. My confidence in the current thought process of the Game and Fish is dropping like a rock day by day. No strong leadership to make bold decisions that could positively affect our overall turkey population seems to be in place. I have also heard that the commissioners are looking into this situation again......Just be prepared for anything next year if this happens and set up your hunting trips for further north unless some decisions are altered between now and then ( which is very possible).
My confidence in them hit bottom long, long ago.
 

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Got a little info this weekend while visiting the New Turkey coordinator with the Game and Fish. They have already set a tentative time for the 2013 season to open unless something major changes. It is April 21st on a Saturday.........:skeptical: The reasoning I was given was that as of now, the info they have to go by is that the hens are only about 20% bread at the current opening dates and by waiting another week the numbers will be around 40 %. I pressed them on the issue about not taking Jakes and allowing those as breeding stock, if that would not be enough. Also if the hens bread once, if this was not adequate for a entire clutch. Also if their data was solid on the percentages bread on this date. Was their data founded on second nesting efforts or first attempt efforts.........:shrug: I got no solid answers on those questions except that going by the data they have received from the Muddy study in the 90's and the poult counts they were getting now was what they were biasing their decisions on. Our current NWTF Biologist did step up and say that one breeding has been shown to handle as many a 3 clutches of eggs. I was also told that they could only control 2 things, opening dates and harvest numbers. I disagreed and mentioned predator factors and supplemental feeding issues but got little input on the predator issue and only that Supplemental feeding should be stopped, but that was up to hunters as of now. My confidence in the current thought process of the Game and Fish is dropping like a rock day by day. No strong leadership to make bold decisions that could positively affect our overall turkey population seems to be in place. I have also heard that the commissioners are looking into this situation again......Just be prepared for anything next year if this happens and set up your hunting trips for further north unless some decisions are altered between now and then ( which is very possible).
Would you tell me how they can totally control harvest numbers?
 

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I thought most of the guys on this forum was all for the late opening. By opening late the harvest will surely be down.Isnt that the main goal without actually saying we need to cut the harvest numbers. That way they can leave the gobbler limit at 2 and pretty much rest assured that the vast majority of hunters will kill only one. Everyone raised heck when the commissioners didnt listen to the biologists,are these ideas coming from biologists or the bosses? I have stated my opinion the last few years,and have attended the meetings and spoke there also.I dont think I will waste my time listening to 20 year old turkey studies anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I thought most of the guys on this forum was all for the late opening. By opening late the harvest will surely be down.Isnt that the main goal without actually saying we need to cut the harvest numbers. That way they can leave the gobbler limit at 2 and pretty much rest assured that the vast majority of hunters will kill only one. Everyone raised heck when the commissioners didnt listen to the biologists,are these ideas coming from biologists or the bosses? I have stated my opinion the last few years,and have attended the meetings and spoke there also.I dont think I will waste my time listening to 20 year old turkey studies anymore.



Buck, My main hope at this time is that this new study we have underway will shed some light on things we need to change and that some of these guys will actually use and work with it. It will take time to complete and I hope our numbers hold or possibly increase with good weather conditions up until that time. Also so many decisions are being made on what looks to just be a guessing game with no data to back the reason why. There are several county's that I would expect to increase this upcoming year due to good hatches. I'm not complaining about the opening date so much as I am the absence of making other needed changes that will work for the betterment of the hatch success. Other than changing opening dates, they seem to be totally blind to other issues that are playing a major role in the number lose.
 

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Sounds like the kind of information you'd expect to get from someone that really has nothing to say but feels they have to say something.. They have got to come to the understanding that they can't continue to make the same decisions based on the same outdated data and expect to get different results.. Business as usual is going to put us out of business..
 

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April 20th seems a little late, but I personally am still in favor of a later opener as compared to the first of April. I figured anything around the 10th or later would be sufficient to allow ample time for breeding, which I figured would be April 13, 2013. I am a little shocked that only 20% have been bred by that time. I'm no biologist, but that seems a little low to me. 20%???

Though not advertised as such, I do think one of their goals with a later opener is to reduce harvest total, which in all honesty is not a bad thing during periods of depressed populations. I think that has played a role in the lower harvest #s of the last few years, along with 1/2 the number of hunting days as compared to 10 years ago. Weather was also a factor last season. In my opinion the jake restriction, IF given time, will help gobbler carryover for breeding and the quality of hunting that most seek will be present. Like it or not a lower gobbler harvest now during the present could help down the road. I would think it would equate to a much higher percentage than 20% of bred hens by the same date if compared to that same date.

I do hope the current studies will continue to reveal helpful information that can or will actually be put to use to help benefit the turkey population. Sometimes it seems like the obvious is overlooked. It's really no secret as to why turkeys have struggled and we have discussed those extensively. Some we can control. I keep thinking of the 20%. If they are basing that on age of poults, yet can't determine if they are the result of first, second, or third nesting attempt, then how realistically can they be accurate that only 20% are bred by the measured date? Gobbler harvest really doesn't matter if the hatches are poor.

I can only speak of areas I know and don't dare pretend to know the dynamics of hunting those I am not familiar with. With that being said, April 20th is not the ideal opener most of us seek. But, one thing is likely certain....It isn't harmful
to the population other than a few nest disturbances. We can't control what dates they set, but if the same # of days are allowed to hunt we have the same opportunity to kill them. A later opener often equates to tougher hunting, simply because gobblers are often not gobbling as well and are spending majority of time with hens courting and breeding. But, at some point, with patience, opportunities will come during the season to kill gobblers. It boils down to finding the right gobbler to hunt and putting the time in. I like going and hearing several gobblers from one spot and having to choose which one to hunt, but that isn't always reality of turkey hunting. If it was easy it wouldn't be so much fun in my opinion. While We may not like the late opener, at least we have a turkey season, and on the positive side, if it helps equate to a stronger population a few years down the road then that's not such a terrible thing is it?

I'll mention it one more time. Where does that 20% come from, if that date has always been considered the "peak breeding date"? What changed if they are going off the same data? If it's always been 20% then I wouldn't consider that "peak".
 

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What are the other 80% of the hens doing? I have seen hns being bred in mid and late March. I can not help but to believe that some of these hens are being bred after that but it causes more thought that they simply are not nesting at all. I see way too many hens in groups of 3-5 after season running around together when they should be on a nest.

Shut it down if it is that bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What are the other 80% of the hens doing? I have seen hens being bred in mid and late March. I can not help but to believe that some of these hens are being bred after that but it causes more thought that they simply are not nesting at all. I see way too many hens in groups of 3-5 after season running around together when they should be on a nest.

Shut it down if it is that bad.
My guess on this figure is that it comes back to 2nd attempts after nesting failures due to predation. We have all seen poults as early as mid- may and as late as mid July. I truly believe this is from predation more than anything. JMO. If hens can have as many as 3 clutches of eggs from one breeding I can not see this being the problem. As I said before, I have no problem with the late openers like we have been having and I do think if it opened on the first of April there may be a gobbler slaughter before hens did have a chance to breed. There should not be a hen out there that doesn't have a chance to breed before season opens, thats only the smart thing to do, but lets take some action on some of these other issues that are the real problems. Promote the reduction of predator numbers as well as habitat improvements. Enforce the Feral hog release fines and get something solid on the books to control this as well. Get the Leo's back in the woods and assessing every section of the state for their biologist and not having to do so much of this drug bust work that the sheriff and state are suppose to do. Regain the trust of the Arkansas Hunters and represent then to the commission.
 

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I am all for predator reduction but the market doesn't drive it enough. And with so many uneducated concerning wildlife that are more the mainstream now days I see little chance of it becoming fashionable or even supported by mainstream, look at the goose hunt in Burns Park. The only way to give hens and gobblers a breeding chance is to put season off until the initial breeding is done. Without knowing the gobbler density in a given area you simply can't know when that is or is over. More gobblers breeding means the sooner the deed is done, fewer gobblers mean the longer it takes. Throw hunter pressure in the mix and again it becomes more drawn out.

And feral pigs...pig hunters tore my gate up this weekend so they could follow their dogs. Thanks guys. You have endeared me and my lease to you forever.
 

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Since we obviously have a population problem with turkey in the state as a whole, why not be proactive and lower the gobbler limit to 1? Why are they not performing numerous studies at once? More data the better in my opinion. If i were a biologist i would want to be out in the field as opposed to in an office. Also if they acknowledge that feeding is a problem, then stand up have some balls and make an unpopular decision and make it illegal. Instead of being "joe" the AGFC employee, be "joe" the AGFC employee that saved turkeys in Arkansas. As for predators, why not have a small bounty like they do on beavers in some counties?
 

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Since we obviously have a population problem with turkey in the state as a whole, why not be proactive and lower the gobbler limit to 1? Why are they not performing numerous studies at once? More data the better in my opinion. If i were a biologist i would want to be out in the field as opposed to in an office. Also if they acknowledge that feeding is a problem, then stand up have some balls and make an unpopular decision and make it illegal. Instead of being "joe" the AGFC employee, be "joe" the AGFC employee that saved turkeys in Arkansas. As for predators, why not have a small bounty like they do on beavers in some counties?
There are current studies and research underway concerning nesting hens and prescribed burns, etc. The question is...what do they do with the data gathered? From the outside looking in, the predominate factors that contribute to the current distressed turkey numbers don't seem to be all that hard to identify.

We don't know yet to what extent poorly timed burns have on the population, but common sense seems to be that it is harmful for a depressed population. Each and every nest is of high value these days. But, no matter what is determined from the research, what is the attitude of the National Forest Service? Do they buy into the belief that poorly timed burns are detrimental for some wildlife and do they adjust their policies accordingly?

We can forget a bounty. They won't do it and no biologist will call for aggressive predator control. The generic response is to improve habitat. Therefore, it's up to concerned hunters to do our part in predator control.

Bag limit reduction? That debatable of whether it makes a difference at all. Regardless, gobbler harvest is down the scale of priorities for change in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
If we get the weather right this year and everything else, I think we may all be surprised at the number of gobbling birds we may all hear this year. Now, will it be during season I don't know. In areas I have been in for the last two years, very little gobble activity has occurred. The following fall and early winter the fields are covered with birds. Gobble activity is greatly influenced by hunter activity and early scouting, I am a firm believer in this as well as predator pressure which may be the big player in what we hear in the spring. How many times have you heard a young gobbler hammer his head off on the limb and then hear the old gobbler maybe say one word just before fly down. They hit the ground you never hear another word. That young one knows better, he's not the dominate gobbler. You let a young gobbler hit the ground about twice and there be a coyote waiting on him he learns better as well. I know our numbers ave lower than we have had for many years, I'm still not 100% convinced they are near as low state wide as we are being led to believe. At least in the several places I hunt across the state. There are also about 3 county's in extreme South AR that are seeing a major rebound in numbers. The reason I am hearing is a very extensive trapping effort going on in this area by concerned hunters. Something we all need to take a closer look at. We have a very large lease right here in Cleveland county. We never heard a gobbling bird on our lease during season but had 7 Jakes I know of in one hatch. This fall we saw many older gobblers feeding through the woods. Guys, these birds are resilient and very adaptable and sometimes we don't give them the credit they deserve. I still feel that predation may be the key factor in the long run.
 

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They need to leave it as it is for a few years. The numbers will rebound with the current structure we have if given time.
:thumb:

Thompson,
Your last post made some good points. I agree turkey numbers are down, and I can attest of that fact in the areas I hunt. Some areas have been hit harder than others. But, I think alot of the apathy stems from a lack of gobbling activity. As you mentioned, gobbling activity is influenced by several factors, such as weather, timing of the season,
density of predators numbers, human activity, and age structure of male turkeys in the population as a result of hatch success over time. If you answered yes or no to each factor above as having an influence in the last couple of years, I would argue yes would be the overwhelming answer. We all want to hear gobbling turkeys, myself included. I don't think we are at a point that the season needs to be closed. In a sense we have been spoiled in the past. I'm not saying that couldn't possibly be the norm like in other states, IF we could sustain multiple solid hatches, but alot of the frustration originates with the notion that we want it to come easy. It's not easy to kill gobblers consistently and most that do put time and effort into doing it. Trust me, I don't intend to offend anyone or speak harsh, but as a whole I would say that's a source of much disdain. Some, NOT ALL. I get frustrated too at times, but it's turkey hunting. The later opener usually poses more challenges due to timing, but I know that if I put in time, effort, and choose my spots wisely I'll at the very least put myself into the best possible position to kill a gobbler. Even at that there's no guarantees, but that's hunting.
 

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I have no population problem on my farm! If you take care of your turkeys they will take care of you!! I would like to see it up in zones so i dont have to hunt during the worst part of the season just because jo blow decided he would kill 26 turkeys in 2 years! I have a very large turkey population and i can prove it last season we heard on average of 20 birds a morning sure there was mornins that they all wernt feelin it but more likely than not they're would be a lot of birds hammerin on the roost. manage your land for turkeys and they will be there
 

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I heard very vew birds last year - and none as late as 20 April. Personally - I would rather have 5 days season the first week of April than a month of season starting 20 April. We better hope we get a decent hatch this year or we may be looking at a 20 May opener in 2014.
 
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