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I believe like most of you guys we have a Big Problem in the Turkey woods. I spent a full week vacation and several weekends. I hunted a private lease close to Big Timber seen 2 birds, hunted a draw permit at Cutoff Creek seen 1bird heard 4 gobblers, hunted private ground close the Marshall seen 1jake 3 hens, hunted Sylamore seen 1bird & hunted private ground at Harrisburg seen 1hen. I finally harvested a Jake at Marshall. As you can tell I hunted most of Regions in Arkansas with little success. I believe 60% of the problem is predators wither it be coyotes, bobcats, coons, opossums, stray dogs, hogs, & etc. My father in law killed coyotes:up: trying stalk on some turkeys this season. I believe weather effects turkeys nesting success to a certain degree. But I wish we had a good bounty system that would encourage more predator hunting. The AGFC needs to lift any season we have on these predators & take a more active roll in managing our Turkeys. I'm shooting predators ever chance a get! That's what I can do, Will you join me?
 

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I don't really know where any of the area's you mentioned are, but I can tell you for sure about south Arkansas: Logging is the problem. Back in the 70's, 80's and early 90's in Cleveland county it wasn't uncommon to see 30 birds in a flock....now you're lucky to see 3 or 4 at a time just a couple times a year.

The only thing that's changed in Cleveland county is the old hardwood bottoms are now cutovers so thick a rabbit would have a hard time getting through them. I keep waiting on the AG&FC and others to admit that this is the problem, but I've never read anything about this anywhere. :teach:

.270Win
 

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I believe like most of you guys we have a Big Problem in the Turkey woods. I spent a full week vacation and several weekends. I hunted a private lease close to Big Timber seen 2 birds, hunted a draw permit at Cutoff Creek seen 1bird heard 4 gobblers, hunted private ground close the Marshall seen 1jake 3 hens, hunted Sylamore seen 1bird & hunted private ground at Harrisburg seen 1hen. I finally harvested a Jake at Marshall. As you can tell I hunted most of Regions in Arkansas with little success. I believe 60% of the problem is predators wither it be coyotes, bobcats, coons, opossums, stray dogs, hogs, & etc. My father in law killed coyotes:up: trying stalk on some turkeys this season. I believe weather effects turkeys nesting success to a certain degree. But I wish we had a good bounty system that would encourage more predator hunting. The AGFC needs to lift any season we have on these predators & take a more active roll in managing our Turkeys. I'm shooting predators ever chance a get! That's what I can do, Will you join me?
From most of the research I have seen, there is no significant change in turkey numbers due to predator control. There are numerous non-targeted predators that consume turkey, and turkey nest. Time and money is better spent on habitat development, rather than predator control.
 

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I agree, countless times I have been on a woodline and watched coyotes sneak below a hill after turkeys. I often tried to get a shot at the coyotes but a majority of the time they are too far and I just run them off and hope the birds don't fly off. My cousin has had coyotes run into his decoy spread many times and I have even had some run in to my mouth calls. You can't tell me they don't try to kill turkey. Even if they aren't a main part of their diet as numbers increase more food will be needed to feed them and their will be coyotes looking to flocks of turkey for food. I may even take up trapping to try and help some as well.
 

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I don't really know where any of the area's you mentioned are, but I can tell you for sure about south Arkansas: Logging is the problem. Back in the 70's, 80's and early 90's in Cleveland county it wasn't uncommon to see 30 birds in a flock....now you're lucky to see 3 or 4 at a time just a couple times a year.

The only thing that's changed in Cleveland county is the old hardwood bottoms are now cutovers so thick a rabbit would have a hard time getting through them. I keep waiting on the AG&FC and others to admit that this is the problem, but I've never read anything about this anywhere. :teach:

.270Win
Excellent post. Couldn't agree more. As far as predators, the thickets that timber companies create after raping the land become great homes for coyotes, bobcats, foxes, etc.
 

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From most of the research I have seen, there is no significant change in turkey numbers due to predator control.

If everyone shot every yote, fox, coon, skunk and bobcat and poacher they saw we would have enough turkeys to hunt when they gobble.
 

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From most of the research I have seen, there is no significant change in turkey numbers due to predator control.

If everyone shot every yote, fox, coon, skunk and bobcat and poacher they saw we would have enough turkeys to hunt when they gobble.
There are many more non-target predators than what you have mentioned. Also, how many skunk hunters do you know?
 

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If you shoot one does that make you a skunk hunter? I am talking about incidental shooting. Just like litter, every little bit helps. Sure crows, feral cats, dogs, hogs, etc. I guess my point is...if we all do as much as we can it will help. Can you agree with that?
 

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If you shoot one does that make you a skunk hunter? I am talking about incidental shooting. Just like litter, every little bit helps. Sure crows, feral cats, dogs, hogs, etc. I guess my point is...if we all do as much as we can it will help. Can you agree with that?
If you intentionally set out to kill a skunk I think you would qualify as a skunk hunter. I understand your line of thinking (if you kill the animals that could possibly kill the turkeys you get more turkeys). Research shows that this is not true. Predator hunting and removal of predators has no significant impact on turkey numbers. There are just to many non-targeted predators in order for there to be a significant impact. To see turkey numbers increase time and money should be spent on habitat improvement.
 

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Ok, lets back up to the thread title and start from there. What can we do? Since outside of leases and/or private land we can do very little in the way of habitat improvement what is the next best thing??? To do what we can. I understand a little bit about population dynamics or as OD reffered to it, compensatory reproduction :wink:. In order to effectively reduce a population you must have a mass effort or consistant removal of not only recruitment animals but also a portion of the breeding population each year or birth cycle. This was taken care in fur bearing animals as long as fur prices were high. At that time also land was largerly open to whomever wanted to hunt it or trap it. At that time also there were fewer turkey hunters. Now we have leases that have removed many users as well as low fur prices and more turkey hunters. Just as these things add to the increase of predators and the decrease of turkey numbers so can a harvest of turkey munchers help. Not to say it by itself will do it all but as the title says, this is something we can do. I urge everyone to write our commissioners and ask for a year round season on such varmits. Add that to intelligent burning dates and whatever habitat improvements we can make and it amounts to more than we have now. We currently have too many small things going wrong to pick one, on that I will agree with you, but I would rather do much even if it only amounts to little progress than to sit and wait on the AGFC to improve habitat cause turkeys don't quack.
 

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I do not see the relationship between fur prices, and turkey numbers. Trapping is much like predator hunting in that it only targest a few species.

Tony, I am not trying to argue with you. I think it is great that you want to make a difference in our states wildlife. I just want to encourage you to spend your time on things that will make a signigicant difference and have and actual effect on habitat or populations. Look into matters deeply before assuming all spring burning is bad, and killing all the predators is the solution, etc. Again, not trying to argue, only encourage. Keep up the passion. :thumb:
 

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I have belonged to groups, just like hunting...where not everybody did their part....there were those that came for the fun, and then went home! Little did they realize that there were a few that did all the hard work that always has to be done[behind the scenes]. For instance, clean up day at camp.....mowing day at camp....food plot building at camp, etc. etc. Now I've always fell into that catagory of "slave" that did all those things, and then hunted. And just for my brother Midnight: I kill skunks, and use their tails for my striper jigs!:wink: Oops....I forgot to mention, preditor/varmint control!
 

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I have belonged to groups, just like hunting...where not everybody did their part....there were those that came for the fun, and then went home! Little did they realize that there were a few that did all the hard work that always has to be done[behind the scenes]. For instance, clean up day at camp.....mowing day at camp....food plot building at camp, etc. etc. Now I've always fell into that catagory of "slave" that did all those things, and then hunted. And just for my brother Midnight: I kill skunks, and use their tails for my striper jigs!:wink: Oops....I forgot to mention, preditor/varmint control!
Those are some stinky jigs you make John:wink::wink:
 

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Tony...I agree...:up:

Spring burning is certainly NOT a good "habitat" practice as far as turkey survival is concerned. Just can't spin it that way....where predators are a factor.

Turkey egg and polt survival goes way down (from the normal) in a sparse understory...such as a freshly burned expanse.

The average hunter has absolutely no means to even slightly "manage the habitat". ....unless he owns the habitat or is at least on a lease which might allow some management.
We also know just how interested the G&F is in habitat management on the WMA lands.
 

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MR I never said all spring burning is bad. What I said was they should use intelligent burning dates that leave the nest alone during the nesting cycle. I can see the forest for the trees and what I see is another 'minimal impact' attitude just like we keep hearing from the AGFC. We can make a difference but it will take more trust from the AGFC, more cooperation from the NFS and a concerted effort by the Arkansas hunters to do as much as they can.

If all the little things don't matter why don't you work an extra two hours a day without pay, its only an insignificant number when you look at the big picture. That way instead of spending your time at home or simply off work doing what you want you can be more productive where it really counts. Sounds pretty flawed to me.
 

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MR I never said all spring burning is bad. What I said was they should use intelligent burning dates that leave the nest alone during the nesting cycle. I can see the forest for the trees and what I see is another 'minimal impact' attitude just like we keep hearing from the AGFC. We can make a difference but it will take more trust from the AGFC, more cooperation from the NFS and a concerted effort by the Arkansas hunters to do as much as they can.

If all the little things don't matter why don't you work an extra two hours a day without pay, its only an insignificant number when you look at the big picture. That way instead of spending your time at home or simply off work doing what you want you can be more productive where it really counts. Sounds pretty flawed to me.
This minimal impact attitude you speak of is a careful let us look at the big picture attitude. Good wildlife and resource managers understand that decisions they make today, effect the future. Also, decisions they make for one species or habitat effects other species and habitat. So you say you can see the forest for the trees, but everything you have said so far is directly geared toward turkey, with little consideration toward other species or habitats. Good managers make decisions based on good data, and experience of themselves and others. They don't use here say, or uneducated guesses when making decisions. Since you have made statements to improve turkey numbers through predator control and timing of burns and using these management tools will make an impact, please share your data based on the following questions.

What is the average mortality rate of turkeys in Arkansas?
What is the average mortality rate of young turkeys (6 months or less)?
What is the average mortality rate of adult turkeys?
When does the highest amount of mortality occur (month/months of the year)?
What are the causes of mortality for turkeys in Arkansas?
What effects does predator control have on turkey population?
What percentage of predator mortality is done by game species?
What percentage of predator mortality is done by non-game species?
What type of habitat is suitable nesting habitat for turkey in Arkansas?
What type of habitat is suitable brood rearing habitat for turkey in Arkansas?
Are the prescribed burns in the National Forest being conducted in suitable nesting or brood rearing habitat?
What percentage of nesting or brood rearing habitat is destroyed due to prescribed burning?
What type of stand dynamics is preferred by wild turkey in Arkansas?
What can be done to improve the stand dynamics?

Just a few questions out of many that should be considered before making management decisions. Lets see your data.
 

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All I am saying is if there are so many minimal things happening at once it effects the whole picture concerning turkey. I have no data other than what I have read by Williams and Lovett concerning nesting and poult rearing. Turkey need openings to rear poults, bug catching and seeds are most available to small poults in these areas. These same openings also serve quail and non game spieces along with elk and deer. Mortality in highest amoung these same poults from every corner of their world, birds of prey, crows also will grab a young poult at a chance. Any ground running predator will do the same. Rainy weather has long been blamed for bad poult production but much of what is held as truth is folklore like poults drowning or catching cold. Lovett said in a study they did a hen kept her poults covered during a rain storm and they came out dry. I am sure some nest are lost due to rain in waterside nesting areas but here in the hills, well we have hills. Turkey hens prefer cover to nest in. I have found more nest in brush pile edges than in open areas, but what percentages I have no clue. I don't think anything I have said would not benefit all game spieces. Burning to rid the forest of floor litter is a must do and for too long was not done on a regular basis. All I would like to see is it done at a more common sense timeframe, you know, away from the nesting period. In big woods, turkey will nest under a bush, we have big woods in the Ozarks and Ouachitas. Burning is done in big woods up here. Again I don't have percentages but if my turkey season is being cut, started late and other things that lead to a less than enjoyable hunt and there are obvious things that could be done different then I will voice my opinion. And still say kill every predator you can when you can. Eggs with round holes in the end mostly are hatched, eggs in half or in pieces are mostly the work of predators. That is not here say, it is experience in the woods. I guess I am having a hard time understanding why you are against doing whatever you can to help even if it is just a bit. I will do what I can, where I can, when I can and rest knowing I did something and did not wait on someone else to do it for me. If you have data share it, I would love to read it. I don't think it will change my mind about killing predators or burns but I will read it. If it is one bird that makes it till next year that me killing a bobcat or coyote accounts for, I did good. I can't create wildlife plots in WMA's, 75% of our lease floods at least once a year in late winter through spring (it came out of the water the last three days of turkey season this year) so plots are a wasted effort pretty much, but I can do something to help at least a few birds. Thats all I am trying to say.
 

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My concern is; about slash/burn: Does this cause environmental concerns? We've always been told that the clearing of the rain forest of south America has changed currents in the ocean as well as other things....like the migration of the "killer" bees, and the northward march of fireants....I know of instances where young cattle have died as a direct result of stumbling into a fireant mound....not telling at the impact of killer bees and fireants on the wildlife. Shouldn't we do something about this(?) like sending them to Oklahoma??:confused::head::whistle:
 

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Big time turkey decliine in Arkansas in late 80's early 90's. Fur prices fell out in 1988 - 90. In the 1980's turkey hunting was great in the Ouachita's, but they had not expanded into a lot of the rest of the state, quail hunting was excellent, rabbits were so numerous they were a nuisance when you were bird hunting. I used to collect salamanders for a university prof, and in the 1980's I commonly found hundreds in a night, and up to 6 diff species. Squirrels were common then and now. If you trapped in the eighties, if you caught a coon or two per night, that was good. What do the turkeys, quail, rabbits, and salamanders have in common? They are all ground nesters same place most of the predators live. Squirrels are still plentiful because they don't nest on the ground. I have not seen a quail in two years, I have seen one salamander this year, there are a few rabbits, and not many turkeys. There are coons, possums, foxes, skunks, coyotes, and bobcats by the hundreds. Could not hardly catch a bobcat in the 80's ($120 each). Now I can't give them away. Turkey populations did rebount in the early 2000's. Not sure if we had several excellent spring weather patterns, mast crops, distemper outbreaks, or what caused it, but we did have good turkey populations then. Not sure what effect the timber harvest has on turkeys. The turkeys I hunt will seek out thinned pine plantations in preference of mature hardwoods, with the exception of the fall mast crops. I don't thin habitat management is the key. We have a number of roadless, wilderness type areas that were full of turkeys 6 years ago, and now there are none - no timber cut, nothing changed, but turkeys are gone. Several guys I know in Mississippi said they quadrupled the number of turkeys on their leases by baiting predators with timic (illegal of course). I think the turkey population is now so low, it is difficult for them to make a strong comeback. It would take a number consecutive years when conditions are perfect, and that is unlikely to happen. Take a one acre pond with an adequate number of bass and bluegills - throw in 100 shiners, and see if you get any shiner survival success. Take that same pond and throw in 5000 shiners, and you will achieve a viable population of shiners. This is like our current turkey population in a woods full of predators. When the turkey population is low, it is difficult for poult production to out pace predation. When there are lots of turkeys, there are enough nests and poults for some of them to escape the predation. I agree with several other posts - predator control is the only recourse we have as individual hunters, while we wait on mother nature to put together several good nesting years in a row.
 
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