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North American Wildlife and Habitat
May 8 at 7:17 PM ·
We have a correction - 2022 will be 2nd worst with 2021 still holding record.
25th Anniversary of the 3 Week Missouri Wild Turkey Season breaks record.
2022 Spring Missouri Wild Turkey Season now holds the record of the 2nd worst season in 25-year history of a three-week season in Missouri coming in at 33,355 plus few.
Adult Gobblers: 26,598
Juvenille Gobblers: 6,324
Bearded Hens: 400
Total: 33,355
Week 1 – around 52% of total harvest
Adult Gobblers: 13,839
Juvenille Gobblers: 3,034
Bearded Hens: 175
Total: 17048
Week 2 plus 10,284 around 31% of total harvest
Adult Gobblers 21,985
Juvenille Gobblers 5,051
Bearded Hens 296
Total 27,332
Week 3 plus 6,033 around 17% of total harvest
Adult Gobblers: 26,621
Juvenille Gobblers: 6,334
Bearded Hens: 400
Total: 33,355
2022 Spring Missouri Wild Turkey Season ranks in worst harvest 30 out of 38 between the statewide two- and three-week season from 2022 to 1985. Missouri Wild Turkey Hunters in three weeks is barely killing more Turkeys than the half of the two-week season in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
2021 still holds the record and, 2019, and 2018 Spring Missouri Wild Turkey Season was the record of the worse season in history of a three-week season in Missouri.
Missouri the TURKEY HUNTING MECCA in the early 2000’s highlighted in every magazine, outdoor TV show Missouri Spring Season Statewide – As of 2021 Missouri did not make it in the top 10 of Turkey Hunting States and now become a “POTHOLE” state – Some have good population, some in decline, some almost non-existence. Which makes for a worst-case scenario for Missouri hunters and landowners to come together.
1974 and 1988 - The major objective in Missouri’s Turkey Season has been to provide maximum hunting opportunity COMMENSURATE WITH THE POPULATION’S ABILITY TO SUSTAIN HARVEST!
Harvest rates in Missouri are closely correlated to the Wild Turkey population numbers per MDC.
1998 Spring season extended from two to three weeks - WOW as the wild turkey population grows the season expanded, but as population decline nothing allowed to change! From 1960 to 2000 in Missouri as the wild turkey population grows the season expanded multiple times, with different limits and season, but as population decline nothing allowed to change!
To maintain a balance approximately 2.5 poults per hen must be produce. When this ratio drops below 2.5 a population is decline indicated and when it goes above 2.5 an increase occurs. The Adult / Juvenile ratio dropped in 1973 to 1:1.9 and that is why two bird limit was dropped in 1974.
September of 2020 – MDC staff “My speculation is that its multiple things causing it not just one and that’s about it. That’s all we can say.”
April 28, 2021 - Even though the turkey population in your area is lower than it once was, there are enough turkeys for the population to rebound given "SEVERAL YEARS" of good production. Best regards, Reina M. Tyl - Wild Turkey and Ruffed Grouse Biologist - Missouri Department of Conservation
May 10, 2021 - Wild Turkey Hens in Missouri are no longer replacing itself short term or possibly in itself lifetime. - Reina M. Tyl - Wild Turkey and Ruffed Grouse Biologist - Missouri Department of Conservation
Multiple times Missouri Conservation Commissioner Steven D. Harrison has said since his tenure that he has seen more letters from Missourians about the Missouri Wild Turkey than any other issue, but still in Missouri as the wild turkey population grows the season expanded, but as population decline nothing allowed to change!
Presented by the Missouri Wild Turkey Biologist to the Conservation Commission in 2021 if the Status Qou stated the same. That means no regulations changes to turkey season. Missouri is in Year 2.
Missouri Spring Season – History of totals
2022 - Turkeys 33,355 plus
2021 – Turkeys 31,978
2020 – Turkeys 38,737
2019 – Turkeys 36,249
2018 – Turkeys 34,017
2017 – Turkeys 43,356
2016 – Turkeys 48,374
2015 – Turkeys 48,432
2014 – Turkeys 47,601
2013 – Turkeys 46,141
2012 – Turkeys 44,766
2011 – Turkeys 42,220
2010 – Turkeys 46,194
2009 – Turkeys 44,713
2008 – Turkeys 46,134
2007 – Turkeys 48,472
2006 – Turkeys 54,712
2005 – Turkeys 57,743
2004 – Turkeys 60,744 (Most Turkeys ever killed)
2003 – Turkeys 58,421
2002 - Turkeys 53,932
2001 - Turkeys 55,302
2000 - Turkeys 56,841
1999 - Turkeys 50,299
1998 - Turkeys 48,462
1997 - Turkeys 33,216 - Last Two-Week Season
1996 - Turkeys 37,708
1995 - Turkeys 37,472
1994 - Turkeys 37,721
1993 - Turkeys 34,342
1992 - Turkeys 33,035
1991 – Turkeys 32,237
1990 - Turkeys 30,056
1989 – Turkeys 35,618
1988 - Turkeys 33,187
1987 - Turkeys 35,951
1986 - Turkeys 30,965
1985 – Turkeys 24,770
Missouri Youth Turkey Season – History of totals.
2,021 - Youth Turkey Season Total 2,795
2020 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 2,724
2019 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 2,546
2018 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 1,729 - Lowest
2017 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 4,012
2016 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 4,167
2015 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 4,441 - Highest
2014 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 4,332
2013 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 3,915
2012 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 4,319
2011 – Youth Turkey Season Total – 3,898
2010 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 3,945
2009 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 2,884
2008 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 2,898
2007 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 3,545
2006 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 3,694
2005 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 3,894
2004 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 3,258
2003 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 3,660
2002 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 3,102
2001 – Youth Turkey Season Total - 2,530 - First
2001 First spring youth season - Research dictated that if we are to guard against overharvest of mature gobblers, the spring season must begin after the peak in breeding activity in early April.
MISSOURI YOUTH SEASON GOES AGAINST THE VERY BIOLOGICAL REASON FOR THE DAY THE SEASON OPENS - The season opens Monday closest to April 21st. This corresponds to the historical records of the second peak Missouri Ozark Gobbling. This is the biological reason for the opening day.
Which may lead to the great successes in turkey population because the hens get to breed with the dominate birds with the first peak gobbling.
So Biological Reason no longer exist - Why not open the season the SATURDAY AND SUNDAY before the Monday closets to April 21st for Biological Reason! (Example too early: April 4 and 5 – 2020 Youth Season)
As the wild turkey population grows the season expanded, but as population decline nothing allowed to change in Missouri?
When the youth season was study – Only Hunter Recruitment and Hunter Retention was consider, if the wild turkey population was never consider in research done in Missouri. Still won't move season to later in April as population declines.
Nest success and poult survival are keys to turkey population trends.
Turkeys have a complex mating system. Toms begin gobbling and strutting in March to determine their pecking order before breeding begins in early April.
If the boss gobbler is killed, the others in his close group may not be able to breed hens immediately. Hens don’t just breed with the next gobbler available.
Letting dominant toms get most hens bred in late early April gives the local population its best chance at more successful nests and putting the greatest number of poults on the ground at the same time.
Jakes will try to breed, but their sperm isn’t viable.
A nest is less likely to contain any infertile eggs if the hen was bred multiple times, and by different toms, over the 10 to 12-day laying period. She will move around to visit different gobblers and breed with the most dominant ones.
Hens can store sperm for 30 days, but viability drops rapidly (which is one reason why the more she breeds, the better the odds of a successful nest). Eggs laid within a few days after breeding do better than those laid with stored sperm.
Most hens are laying at the end of April thru May. Competition to breed is most intense as hens are laying. Disturbance and disruption from hunters during this period has more impact on total poult production for the year than does hunting during the latter half of April and in May.
Reduced gobbling
As toms are harvested, gobbling activity decreases: Fewer birds to gobble, and remaining birds gobble less because of disruption to the pecking order, and disturbance from hunting.
Nesting behavior of hens stimulates gobbling to increase, but this effect is weaker than the impact of hunter disturbance, which causes birds to gobble less. Net effect is less gobbling once hunting season opens even though hens are nesting.
Hunters remove the most vocal birds. Domestic breeders do this purposefully, and it works.
Nesting issues
“Predator swamping” is when all the hens lay their nests within the same few weeks, so that predators can’t get them all before the poults hatch. Also, a shorter nesting period means most poults are equally vulnerable at the same time, “swamping” the ability of local predators to get them all before they’re able to fly.
Breeding season disruption (discussed above) causes many hens to start their nests later, and a few will not attempt to nest at all.
If a hen loses her 1st nest early, she may re-nest, but these, 2nd or even 3rd attempts usually fail to produce poults that survive to the next spring.
When hens are starting their 1st nests over the course of several weeks, the predator swamping effect is lost.
If there is a big size difference in the poults that do survive, hens are less likely to group up their poults in late summer, which also increases their vulnerability to predation
LETTERS TO THE PUBLIC
May 20, 2021 – Missouri Department of Conservation form letters sent to hundreds of Missourians in response to Missouri Wild Turkey decline.
“Because turkey abundance is driven by production, the best way to increase turkey numbers in your area is by providing the habitat turkey needs to nest successfully and raise their young. Planting native warm-season grasses and wildflowers, prescribed burning, edge feathering, timber stand improvement, creating forest openings and woodland restoration, are some of the best ways to improve nesting and brood rearing habitat.”
HABITAT
If habitat is the issue, In Missouri since the year 2000, the Missouri Department of Conservation started the Private Land Conservationist in which the job was to help the 300,000 landowners with wildlife management along with the National Wild Turkey Federation Employees in Missouri - District Biologist, Project Biologist, Project Forester, NFI Forester to help landowners with wild turkey management. So, have all these employees statewide for Missouri failed to improve habitat for landowners?
If habitat is the issue, Missouri has over 2 million acres of Mark Twain National Forest, MDC Conservation Areas, and Corp of Engineer public lands in which the federal and state agencies managed for wildlife. Are all those areas Wild Turkey oasis in the state of Missouri?
Published in the Missouri Conservationist in April 1974 - 1974 - Bag limit reduced to 1 bird due to poor hatch in 1973 – History shows 500-year flood in 73. - 1974 - The Department’s major objective is the management of the wild turkey resource is to provide maximum hunting opportunity commensurate with the TURKEY POPULATION’S ABILITY TO SUSTAIN HARVEST.
To maintain a balance approximately 2.5 poults per hen must be produce.
When this ratio drops below 2.5 a population is decline indicated and when it goes above 2.5 an increase occurs.
The Adult / Juvenile ratio dropped in 1973 to 1:1.9 and that is why two bird limit was dropped in 1974.
MISSOURI RESEARCH
For the year 2000 - Note from the past Father of Wild Turkey Restoration in Missouri – MDC Biologist Vangilder - MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS - Nowhere is there an area in north Missouri of (15,000 ac) that is 70% timbered. Corn and soybean fields more than make up for the lack of trees and turkey densities in the northern part of the state are much higher than in the more heavily forested parts of south Missouri.
Average reproductive rates were much lower in the eastern Ozarks than in northern Missouri and do not appear to be sufficient to maintain population levels observed at the beginning of the study.
Biologists are sometimes forced to use data obtained from short-term, localized studies to model populations on large geographic areas. Often, the results obtained during these modeling efforts do not reflect actual changes in the population.
These types of problems are evident when comparing similar research between northern and southern Missouri. Obviously, average reproductive potential differs substantially between the 2 regions. Southern Missouri has a lower reproductive rate.
Missouri Hope is coming in another 4 years - Wild Turkey Research for the past 6 years and the next 4 years are in Northern Missouri.
THE SOLUTION IN 2026 & BEYOND – MDC Biologist “Once these questions are answered, we’ll be able to mitigate the challenges by MANIPULATIONG HABITAT to improve nest success and poult survival. This information would inform habitat management efforts on public and private lands in Missouri to increase turkey recruitment and ultimately abundance.”
So the solution is Habitat ONLY and in 2026 – They will be telling MISSOURI LANDOWNER how to manipulating habitat to improve nest success and poult survival. This information would inform habitat management efforts on public and private lands in Missouri to increase turkey recruitment and ultimately abundance.”
Missouri does have the Wild Turkey Study in Missouri on the Iowa Border – Year 1 – Only one slight issue – The same wildlife and habitat does not exist in Southern Missouri – Feral Hogs, Black Bear, Elk, Armadillo’s, or even large area of timber.
Only 21% of nests successfully hatched! Only 23% of poults surviving! - The 80s, that was closer to 46%.”
Which lower than the previous 5-year study in Northern Missouri.
Wild Turkey Biologist - 78% nest initiation and 20% nest success. Not sustainable unless adult survival is incredibly high, which we know it isn’t. Those numbers parallel nearly all of the sites across the southeast."
Why did this happen in Missouri and information from MDC Biologist
"About 75% of nests failed due to predation of the actual nest, and 8% failed due to predation of the hen that was incubating the clutch"
Per Acre Raccoon Count
1.57 per acre
2.02 per acre
3.34 per acre
Opossum Count
.65 per acre
1.11 per acre
.93 per acre
PREDATORS
NEST PREDATION IS A LIMITING FACTOR IN WILD TURKEY POPULATIONS – Every Study done Raccoons are the primary nest predator.
1940 – 1941 – 834,935 pelts harvested (most pelts sold) (over 70% were opossum and skunk pelts) most pelts sold
1979 – 1980 – 634,338 (2nd highest pelts sold - when average raccoon pelt values were estimated at $27.50.
1997 – 1998 – Over 200,000 Raccoons trapped.
To maintain a balance approximately 2.5 poults per hen must be produce. When this ratio drops below 2.5 a population is decline indicated and when it goes above 2.5 an increase occurs.
Missouri – Just one Example of the primary egg eater of Wild Turkeys
Poult: Hen Ratio - Year -Raccoon Pelts Sold/Registered
2.6 1998 200,000
2.3 1999 107,267
2.3 2000 55,254
2.1 2001 50,254
1.7 2002 110,603
1.6 2003 103,550
1.6 2004 102,448
1.2 2005 116,396
1.6 2006 84,654
1.0 2007 122,155
1.1 2008 118,166
1.2 2009 122,155
1.1 2010 49,290
1.7 2011 109,586
1.7 2012 158,356
1.3 2013 138,865
1.7 2014 134,715
1.5 2015 85,497
0.8 2016 34,758
0.8 2017 32,106
0.9 2018 26,340
0.9 2019 22,562
1.0 2020 24,652
Now add in Bobcats, Coyotes, Opossum, Skunks, Foxes, and Crows, etc., etc. who population has only increased since the dismal fur markets relying on China and Russia.
2021 - The number of bald eagles in the lower 48 U.S. states — a population once on the brink of extinction, has quadrupled in the last dozen years to more than 316,000, federal wildlife officials – common sense tells you that Hawks and Owls must me at an all-time high. Multiple videos exist showing eagle and hawks attacking turkey decoys.
August 21, 2021 Wildlife biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation “I’ve been doing this for 18 years now, and when I started, we were just starting to see armadillos around. We really were telling people, ‘We will get a couple harsh winters, and they’ll die off. They’re just not well equipped to survive our winter. They don’t store fat well.’ We were proven wrong about that, and I don’t say that anymore. Around 10 years ago, I stopped telling people that.”
What she does not say – NO study exist in Missouri with Wild Turkey hens are very susceptible to nest abandonment when flushed from the nest by a predator. Intentional flushes of known nests shows that upwards to 50% of all hens abandon their nests after only one contact.
Hens that don't abandon after the first event almost never, as high as 85%, suffer more than (2) flushes from the nest. Even the Tennessee Game Warden Video in 2021 shows Armadillo harassing hen on nest.
FAMED Tennessee biologist Jack Murray – “If you don’t have hens, you won’t have any gobblers and if you don’t have gobblers, you don’t have hunters.”
Missouri Department of Conservation Quail Biologist - if 6% of the quail are making thru the breeding season it just COMPOUNDS THE NUMBER OF NEST AND NEST SUCCESS. Waterfowl Hens and Pheasant Hens are limited in harvest, only Wild Turkey in Missouri does this not apply. Except for 1960 thru 1978 when Missouri as the wild turkey population was still growing and not able to sustain hen harvest.
Missouri as the wild turkey population grows the season expanded, but as population decline nothing allowed to change!
States Changes Turkey Regulations
Combating declining wild turkey numbers with new regulations – Per State
Not sure what other states have made changes.
1. Kansas – 2020 – Reduce Bag Limits, reduce fall season days.
2. Tennessee – 2021 – Reduce Bag Limits and season lengths
3. Mississippi – 2022 - Non-Resident Turkey Licenses went up and application required.
4. Oklahoma – 2022 – Reduce Bag Limits
5. Alabama – 2022 - Alabama: changed opening date, reduce bag limit, prohibit the use of decoys during the first 10 days of the spring season.
6. Georgia – 2022 – Reduce Bag Limits, change opening date
7. Arkansas - 2022 - regulations proposals Reduce the statewide bag limit on turkey to one bird (beginning in 2023);
8. Ohio - Reduce Bag limit and number of days in fall.
9. Kentucky – 2022 - Removed fall hens from harvest, reduced bag limit on public lands
Habitat, Seed Coatings, Logging, Pesticides, Over Harvest, Predators land and air, modern weapons and equipment what ever the reason does not really matter in Missouri.
What is the Missouri Wild Turkey Solution – HOPE – Unfortunately HOPE is not a strategy or a good turkey management policy”
Hope that a gobbler breeds a hen,
Hope if the hen lives to lay eggs,
Hope if the hen hatches the eggs,
Hope if the poults live to become adults,
Hope that the population will increase.
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Máistir an pointe hocht.
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So, there ya have it plain as day, adding that second day of season started the death knell of our turkey population..... :cool:

If you can't kill your turkeys in 2 weeks, you should go home. :D
 

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Mt Sterling, Mo
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Missing the amount of hunters each year and sold tags ,,,,,More tags sold ,the more turkeys killed ................with approx 100,000 furbearers sold ,,,theres a variation of 1.1 phr to 2.3 phr ..............
Highest killed (2004) doesnt jive with highest youth number killed 2015 ..............Lots of variables that this chart isnt showing ...................Furbearers trapped isnt showing a consistant correlation in phr numbers
 

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I wonder why there was a such a drastic drop between 2017 and 2018? It looks like 2006 to 2007 produced a noticeable drop for the adult season but then the youth numbers started trending up after not long after that. Both seasons went to crap from 2018 on though.

Funny thing is 2018 was the last good season we had. My dad, little brother and myself all killed our two birds with little trouble that year. It become noticeably more difficult to find birds to hunt on our properties from 2019 on though.
 

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All that article is, is an MDC hit job. I have a couple guesses on who the author is based upon some other facebook posts.
The Turkey decline is quite likely beyond any entities control. I am not an MDC apologist, but blaming them when they were already one of the most Conservative regulation wise states in the nation is akin to Biden blaming Trump for the pandemic.
Maybe turkeys will one day just be in pockets where private landowners took it upon themselves to create habitat, pray for good weather conditions, and effectively manage predation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Zero idea what the answer is for the MDC, but my thought
All that article is, is an MDC hit job. I have a couple guesses on who the author is based upon some other facebook posts.
The Turkey decline is quite likely beyond any entities control. I am not an MDC apologist, but blaming them when they were already one of the most Conservative regulation wise states in the nation is akin to Biden blaming Trump for the pandemic.
Maybe turkeys will one day just be in pockets where private landowners took it upon themselves to create habitat, pray for good weather conditions, and effectively manage predation.
is are their more turkey hunters than trappers? If there are more turkey hunters then cater to them and open of predators year round, even if it only help a a little that would be a start!
 

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Zero idea what the answer is for the MDC, but my thought

is are their more turkey hunters than trappers? If there are more turkey hunters then cater to them and open of predators year round, even if it only help a a little that would be a start!
Now dont get me wrong, I would LOVE to see Missouri go to a bounty system like South Dakota. It would be interesting what impact that would have. But then again, if we are gonna go all out on predators let's talk about Great horned owls (probably the biggest adult Turkey predator there is) and Bald Eagles!!🤔
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Now dont get me wrong, I would LOVE to see Missouri go to a bounty system like South Dakota. It would be interesting what impact that would have. But then again, if we are gonna go all out on predators let's talk about Great horned owls (probably the biggest adult Turkey predator there is) and Bald Eagles!!🤔
Good with them on the list as well😀
 

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Are there any states that aren't seeing a decline in their turkey populations lately? Seems like every single thing I read is talking about <insert name of random state> is experiencing a decline in turkey populations.
 
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