Question about Alabama

Vermin93

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The most recent Turkey Country magazine contains a 2013 Spring Hunt Guide that provides a summary of most turkey hunting States. It includes info like the estimated number of birds in the State, the 2012 harvest numbers, season dates, bag limits, hunting hours, poaching hotlines, 2013 hunting forecast, "hot spots", "inside info", etc. I enjoyed reading about each State. One thing I noticed is that Alabama appears to be the undisputed king of turkey hunting. It's turkey population, estimated at 500,000, is the same as Texas, which is several times bigger than Alabama. By comparison, the estimated turkey population in neighboring Tennessee is estimated at 310,000, Georgia is 325,000, and Mississippi is 225,000. The only State that seems to hang with Alabama and Texas in terms of estimated population and harvest is Wisconsin. This makes me think that Wisconsin is the undisputed all around king for deer & turkey hunting.

Anyways, my question is this - why is the turkey scene in Alabama so good? I think they have the highest bag limit of any State, yet they are still able to maintain the largest turkey population of any State. Is Alabama just full of great turkey habitat? What are the main reasons that it is such a great turkey State in terms of population, annual harvest and bag limits?
 

REN

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I've hunted bama all my life (Macon county to be exact) and while the birds are numerous bama is HARD hunting. By far the hardest birds I've personally hunted and I've hunted more then a few states. Ms may be the hardest but bama ain't far behind.
 

Boll Weevil

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With the comment, "...estimated number of birds" you said a mouthful. Estimates can be really tricky whether its overall population or harvest (especially if there is no enforced process for birds being checked in). Some states' check-in and harvest record process is an absolute joke while other systems of tagging and checking are far more disciplined, enforced, and potentially much more accurate.

States have very different methods of collecting data; some pretty good and some not so much. Some of the data you might have to take with a tiny grain of salt.
 

Vermin93

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REN said:
I've hunted bama all my life (Macon county to be exact) and while the birds are numerous bama is HARD hunting. By far the hardest birds I've personally hunted and I've hunted more then a few states. Ms may be the hardest but bama ain't far behind.

Maybe that's why the population is so big and the limit is so high? The birds are hard to kill, so fish and game isn't worried about having a 5 tom limit because most hunters won't come close to limiting out?
 

REN

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I will just say that hunting in Middle TN is MUCH MUCH easier to get on a bird and kill it then most places i hunt in bama. I have hunted all over bama but mostly in the Macon, Lowndes, Bullock and Lee county areas and most of those are COVERED with birds.

the difference is habitat, it is pretty thick in most of those areas and lost of pine groves with oak flats. Not near the field options like there is around here. you have to get them in close and REALLY have to know the terrain you are hunting. also you could not use decoys for a long time which made it harder for some.
 

Spurhunter

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Vermin93 said:
Anyways, my question is this - why is the turkey scene in Alabama so good? I think they have the highest bag limit of any State, yet they are still able to maintain the largest turkey population of any State. Is Alabama just full of great turkey habitat? What are the main reasons that it is such a great turkey State in terms of population, annual harvest and bag limits?

Pretty simple: You can never, ever, ever kill a hen in Alabama. Guess what? Hens lay the eggs and raise the poults that turn into mature turkeys! It's so simple, it sounds stupid, yet we still have "turkey hunters" in TN killing hens and flock shooting 6 a day, and the state allowing it. Utterly ridiculous.
 

Vermin93

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Just to be clear, my post was not in any way meant to be a criticism of Tennessee turkey hunting. I was simply curious why Alabama has such great numbers when it comes to turkey population and turkey harvest.

2012 harvest numbers (States with harvest over 10,000. Totals rounded to the nearest thousand):

Alabama: 47,000
Florida: 23,000
Georgia: not listed
Illinois: 16,000
Indiana: 12,000
Iowa: 10,000
Kansas: 31,000
Kentucky: 33,000
Michigan: not listed
Minnesota: 11,000
Mississippi: not listed
Missouri: 45,000
Nebraska: 21,000
New York: 19,000
North Carolina: not listed
Ohio: not listed
Oklahoma: 34,000
Pennsylvania: 35,000
South Dakota: 13,000
Tennessee: 34,000
Texas: not listed
Virginia: 15,000
Wisconsin: 43,000
 

AT Hiker

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I cannot speak for all of Alabama, but I did just get back from the Talladega NF in the Oakmulgee district. We hunted hard for two days and seen no more than a 2 dozen birds, this includes the driving as well. Once we crossed back into to TN, birds were everywhere...I have no idea what the answer is on that.

AL birds so far are the hardest I have hunted, I hunted public land granted...however, I did not run into one single hunter either. Long leaf pine ridges that were thicker than any CRP field I have ever seen dominated the area, next in line of typical habitat would be controlled burn pine stands, the lastly hardwood slopes/bottom land...very little open ground.

I did not hunt the WMA's because they cease hunting at noon, but Oakmulgee and Cahaba WMA's are supposed to be real good (I had a run in with a wildlife officer and he suggested we hunt the WMA's).

Being a rookie to AL, I would say "there aint no birds in Bama" and my sightings would suggest that. But I know for sure they are there, just finding them is the key...obviously right???? We did kill a bird, but we hunted harder than we usually do.

AL is just completely different hunting than TN/KY like I am used to. They may have more birds, but I didnt see them and everyone we talked too wouldnt suggest that either...so that leads me to believe the majority of the birds are located in a core area (maybe the black belt region).

So here is the question...what are the top counties for AL and are they in the same core area?
 

Southern Sportsman

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Spurhunter said:
Southern Sportsman said:
If tn would go to a one buck limit, maybe we would be like AL

Wrong forum, dude.

My comment was tongue in cheek. KY has bigger deer, so people (rightly or wrongly) regularly profess that if we would only go to a one buck limit like KY, then our deer hunting would be as good as KYs. No one has made a parallel argument for AL's better turkey hunting.

In my opinion, AL has more turkeys because of natural habitat. They have a lot of large tracts of pine timber and thicker, greener habitat in areas because a large part of their state is very warm all year long. In addition to that, the state is more rural than most, so the turkeys have more and better areas to live.
 

AT Hiker

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The land area of Alabama is a tad over 52,00 sq miles with an estimated 500,000 birds, thats 9.6 birds per square mile and they harvest 10.5% of total birds

The land area of Tennessee is a tad over 42,000 sq miles with an estimated 300,000 birds, thats 7.1 per square mile and we harvest 9% of the total birds.

I would guess and say Alabama simply has more turkey habitat per square mile, or more carrying capacity per square mile.
 

Spurhunter

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Keep in mind that all 10.5% of Alabama's kills are male. Tennessee's 9% include hens. I'm sure it has a lot do with habitat, but you can't kill your breeding stock and expect populations to rise at the same rate.
 

woodsman87

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I have hunted both states alot. Alabama probabably more because that is where I am from. I mostly hunted in Randolph and Chambers county, which is near Auburn, AL. I think there are several reasons why there are more turkeys down there.

First of all, like some of you stated before, there is absolutely no hen killing, fall or spring, bearded hens or unbearded hens. The guide clearly states, "gobblers only" while Tennessee states bearded birds. I am not knocking Tennessee, I would rather hunt my TN places than my AL places any day. It is also 5 birds per year, combined spring and fall seasons. In TN, you could go shoot six hens in one day in the fall, and then go back in spring and kill four gobblers. That is alot of turkeys, especially hens. Again, I aint knocking TN, I think TN is better for turkey hunting.

Next is habitat. There is more hardwoods, pinewoods, pastures, food plots, and LAND. In some of the places I hunt in Randolph and Chambers County, it is almost like people do not exist. There is nothing but private land which are all woods and pastures, and Timber companies which are all woods and of course clear cuts, which different age clear cuts serve different purposes for turkeys. Young ones provide openings for strutting, breeding, and looking for bugs for the young little poults. The older thick ones provide the best nesting habitat there is. And then once the pines are tall enough, it is perfect roosting. Also there are thousands of acres of hardwoods down there, which provide plenty of red and white oak acorns to eat during fall winter. I think this is the most important factor in why that area has so many turkeys.
 

woodsman87

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Also, it is so dang tough to kill them down there. I think that they are a different breed of wild turkey. They are smaller in weight, averaging 17-18 lbs, while at my places in TN most are about 20-22 lbs. This could be what their diet is though.

They typically do not gobble near as much, and also tend to hang up more often. At one of the spots I have acess too, you pretty much cannot use a call. I never owl hoot when I am there, and when I am fortunate enough to find one on the roost, I do not call in the tree. It is wait until he flies down, make three yelps and two clucks, and throw your call away. IF you over call down there the game is over. And this is from the first day to the last day. Spooked up all the time. I have only hunted TN, AL, and FL, with AL being 10x harder than any other.

I cannot speak for all of AL. North AL, Limestone Co., is pretty much the same as TN land type wise and the way the birds act. The only thing is Limestone Co doesn't have many turkeys. Jackson Co, in the northeast part of state is very tough. I have hunted Marshall AL and Dekalb AL in northeast, and it was more like TN. It just a little different everywhere I guess.
 

woodsman87

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So here is the question...what are the top counties for AL and are they in the same core area? [/quote]

IMO, i cannot speak for all of AL, but the counties of Chambers, LEE, Bullock, and Tallapoosa are tough tough to beat. I am not sure what count Tuskegee is in, but that area is very good as well.
 

REN

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Tuskegee is in Macon. Lee county is good as well as lowndes and Montgomery. The closer you get to FL the less dense the population becomes. I can't speak for much on the west side of the state though. I forget what county Greenville/pineapple is in but there is decent hunting down there as well.

Macon county has always been pretty high up there in harvest numbers.
 

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