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Why the spotty turkey decline?

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Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby poorhunter » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:05 am

I know we’ve talked about how there are places that have plenty of turkeys still, and others where there has been a drastic decline. Here’s a thought...someone else in another thread mentioned that alflotixin positive corn has been shipped out of Texas (for instance) to Tennessee (for instance). So this truckload if tainted corn is sent to a Walmart somewhere (say Waynsboro) and every Tom Dick and Harry that ships there goes and buys this corn and puts it out for deer hunting. By the tunnel all this corn is gone there’s no telling how many flocks have been decimated in that area. Same thing on a lesser scale may have happened in other areas. Corn is used so much in the last 10 years and there’s bound to have been some tainted batches that folks put out. I personally think this is a very likely scenario that tainted corn is the major culprit in the localized population drops in spotty areas.
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby JCDEERMAN » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:22 am

Seems very logical poorhunter
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby megalomaniac » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:11 am

I think that has certainly happened on occasion throughout the state, but isn't the cause for the major drop, IMO....

The biggest cause for the decline is that hens have simply quit rearing poults. Back in the 90's, it was rare for me to see a hen without poults. Now I'm only seeing 1 out of 10 hens who have successfully gotten hatched eggs out of the nest. I have no idea why... increased nest/ young poult predation, decreased fertility from removing males too early, decrease in safe nesting habitat, etc, etc are all possible reasons, but no one really knows for sure. Could low levels of aflatoxin affect reproduction without killing the birds? I don't know, but possibly. But something has been going on for over a decade preventing the population expansion that should be happening with proper habitat and harvest management.
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby poorhunter » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:27 am

megalomaniac wrote:I think that has certainly happened on occasion throughout the state, but isn't the cause for the major drop, IMO....

The biggest cause for the decline is that hens have simply quit rearing poults. Back in the 90's, it was rare for me to see a hen without poults. Now I'm only seeing 1 out of 10 hens who have successfully gotten hatched eggs out of the nest. I have no idea why... increased nest/ young poult predation, decreased fertility from removing males too early, decrease in safe nesting habitat, etc, etc are all possible reasons, but no one really knows for sure. Could low levels of aflatoxin affect reproduction without killing the birds? I don't know, but possibly. But something has been going on for over a decade preventing the population expansion that should be happening with proper habitat and harvest management.


I don’t know about aflatoxin effecting reproduction, but I’d say it’s more than possible. There may be something else too, but whatever is happening it is drastic in some local areas but not effecting other areas at all. The effected areas are widespread too (besides Lincoln, Wayne County). This leads to looking hard at something like corn feeding being a major issue.
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby Boll Weevil » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:29 pm

Agree poorhunter; seems very logical.
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby woodsman04 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:54 pm

It isn’t just all of Lincoln, Giles, Lawrence, and Wayne. Seems to me south of highway 64 through these four counties is much different than the north. Look at Giles county. It was like number 4 or 5 in harvest totals. I have no way to prove this, but I bet 90% of the harvest is north of highway 64.


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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby catman529 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:14 pm

Interesting theory, definitely a possibility.

Turkeys are weird, hard to figure out, and there’s so many things that can factor into a decline vs a thriving population.

Everyone seems to have a strong opinion of why their birds are gone, but nobody actually really knows why.

People often refer to nest raiders, predators, hay cutting, agricultural practices as the reason why the birds are declining. But I see very very healthy populations in areas that are loaded with coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, hawks, owls, hay fields, and crop fields. And these birds have good hatches almost every year too. I think it will be really hard if not impossible to put a finger on whatever it is that actually causes a decline in any given area.


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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby volsrock » Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:25 pm

woodsman04 wrote:It isn’t just all of Lincoln, Giles, Lawrence, and Wayne. Seems to me south of highway 64 through these four counties is much different than the north. Look at Giles county. It was like number 4 or 5 in harvest totals. I have no way to prove this, but I bet 90% of the harvest is north of highway 64.


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chicken ******!!!! that is ur answer!!! where is the majority of the chicken houses located!!!
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby Roost 1 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:31 pm

catman529 wrote:Interesting theory, definitely a possibility.

Turkeys are weird, hard to figure out, and there’s so many things that can factor into a decline vs a thriving population.

Everyone seems to have a strong opinion of why their birds are gone, but nobody actually really knows why.

People often refer to nest raiders, predators, hay cutting, agricultural practices as the reason why the birds are declining. But I see very very healthy populations in areas that are loaded with coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, hawks, owls, hay fields, and crop fields. And these birds have good hatches almost every year too. I think it will be really hard if not impossible to put a finger on whatever it is that actually causes a decline in any given area.


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To go along with OP's theory.... no one is feeding corn EVER on the public land you hunt. You never mention anything about hunters on the private land around you either, so maybe no one is feeding there either.
It is an interesting theory. However it don't hold up for a place like LBL. Those birds are gone too...
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby catman529 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:33 pm

Roost 1 wrote:
catman529 wrote:Interesting theory, definitely a possibility.

Turkeys are weird, hard to figure out, and there’s so many things that can factor into a decline vs a thriving population.

Everyone seems to have a strong opinion of why their birds are gone, but nobody actually really knows why.

People often refer to nest raiders, predators, hay cutting, agricultural practices as the reason why the birds are declining. But I see very very healthy populations in areas that are loaded with coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, hawks, owls, hay fields, and crop fields. And these birds have good hatches almost every year too. I think it will be really hard if not impossible to put a finger on whatever it is that actually causes a decline in any given area.


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To go along with OP's theory.... no one is feeding corn EVER on the public land you hunt. You never mention anything about hunters on the private land around you either, so maybe no one is feeding there either.
It is an interesting theory. However it don't hold up for a place like LBL. Those birds are gone too...
considering all our Walmart’s and academy keep corn in stock, people are using it. It’s apparent on Facebook that a lot of people bait. And yes they have done it on public land plenty of times. And the public land is surrounded by private land, a lot of which also gets hunted.

The corn thing is an interesting theory, but like I said in my first post, nobody really knows why turkeys disappear some places and thrive in other places with similar habitat and predators.


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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby JCDEERMAN » Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:22 pm

Roost 1 wrote:
catman529 wrote:Interesting theory, definitely a possibility.

Turkeys are weird, hard to figure out, and there’s so many things that can factor into a decline vs a thriving population.

Everyone seems to have a strong opinion of why their birds are gone, but nobody actually really knows why.

People often refer to nest raiders, predators, hay cutting, agricultural practices as the reason why the birds are declining. But I see very very healthy populations in areas that are loaded with coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, hawks, owls, hay fields, and crop fields. And these birds have good hatches almost every year too. I think it will be really hard if not impossible to put a finger on whatever it is that actually causes a decline in any given area.


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To go along with OP's theory.... no one is feeding corn EVER on the public land you hunt. You never mention anything about hunters on the private land around you either, so maybe no one is feeding there either.
It is an interesting theory. However it don't hold up for a place like LBL. Those birds are gone too...


LBL cares nothing about its wildlife. That place has been in my rear-view mirror for years.

As far as the current thread is concerned, we speculate it is likely due to nest raiders, bad corn and poor breeding (combination of all to an extent). What can we do about that on the land(s) we manage? For us, we can start trapping and we can quit putting corn out before season to reduce the chances of poisoning the turkeys.

As far as poor breeding is concerned, there is not much we can do unless the majority push for a later season opening, as many have mentioned on here the killing of mature birds too early causing hierarchy issues within their social network.
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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby AT Hiker » Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:40 pm

Possible, maybe. But if that’s the case the places I’ve hunted in KY must have never purchased infected corn. I’ve hunted two farms up there in Todd County. Baiting is a way of life for some of these people and thus far it has not hampered the turkey population there.

BUT...I don’t know what the population was like 5 years ago either.

At my granddads place in Dickson county. It’s like we had a mass turkey exodus. Hens just quit reproducing...luckily things changed this year. We have 6 poults that we know of still alive, basically it’s a freaking miracle. Killed one Tom this year and it appears we will have 5 going in to fall.


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Re: Why the spotty turkey decline?

Postby ROVERBOY » Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:58 pm

We've got a low population too. I heard and saw more birds 10 years ago than I do now. It could be tainted corn feeding. It doesn't really make sense to say that its nest raiders and predators. They are nothing new.
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