Lower Expectations Met In Spring Turkey Hunt

By Don Jordan

posted July, 2007

Indiana’s 38th modern day spring wild turkey hunt was not a record-breaker, but Hoosier hunters still bagged 11,163 gobblers during the annual 19-day hunting season.

Steve Backs, the Div. of Fish & Wildlife’s wild turkey biologist based in Mitchell, predicted a lower harvest this year, primarily due to poor wild turkey production in 2005, and his prediction was right on the button.

“Reasons for the decreased harvest (-15%) appeared to be a combination of record low production in 2005 and the abnormal extremes in the spring weather temps that occurred prior to the season that seem to interrupt the normal breeding chronology.

“The –15 percent decrease in 2007 harvest follows a 18 percent increase with the record 2006 harvest and reflects wide range of production success in 2004 (the year of the locusts and a record high) and 2005 (record low) followed by relatively low production success in 2006. The number of hunters afield was estimated at around 52,660 with an estimated hunter success of 21 percent. A more accurate estimation of the hunter success and hunter effort during the 2007 spring season will be determined after the results of the turkey hunter questionnaire survey is completed later this summer,” Backs reported in his spring season summary.

The top ten counties in the state, by harvest totals were:

-Switzerland, 467

-Harrison, 402

-Jefferson, 399

-Dearborn, 391

-Greene, 354

-Perry, 349

-Parke, 333

-Clark, 309

-Pike, 306

Totals from counties in this newspaper’s readership area realized these totals:

*Brown, 187, down 100 birds from 2006.

*Greene, 354, down 50.

*Jackson, 224, down 86.

*Lawrence, 279, down 75

*Monroe, 197, down 101

*Morgan, 63, down 9

*Owen, 246, down 67

The first five day of this year’s season where far and away the most successful for hunters with opening day the best day of them all for hunter success.   And, the early hunter gets the bird, because the majority of turkeys taken were killed between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

A combination of factors, including more hunters and fewer adult birds, created a lower hunter success ratio this year too.  Only 21 percent of  the 59,660 turkey hunters afield managed to get a bird this year.  In 2006, 26 percent of the 50,880 hunters afield bagged a bird.

The only new record for Indiana turkey hunting was the number of hunters afield and the number of permits sold.  This year’s 59,660 hunters exceeded the former top number of hunters ever by nearly 2,000.  Permits sold for this year totaled 69,860 as compared to the former top number sold in 2006 at 67,290.

Backs blamed the lower numbers on poor production of young birds in 2006 and expected lower success ratios this year.

ANGLERS PREFER MAGAZINES

According to a poll by Southwicke Associates, which conducts polls and other research for the hunting and fishing industries, there has been a major shift in where anglers look for information about fishing.

Here is the breakdown:  newspaper 9%; magazines 43% ;  television 19% ; radio 2%; web sites 24%; other or not sure 3%

As recently as 2005, newspapers attracted 25 percent of anglers and magazines only 31 percent.  Internet dependence was only 12 percent.

Most of the move away from newspapers is accounted for by the increase of internet and magazine dependence, although the overall decline in newspaper readership is also a contributor.  And, some newspapers have eliminated outdoor coverage altogether, as is seen in Indianapolis where the city newspaper no longer covers the outdoors.

This trend accounts for an estimated 5 percent of newspaper circulation drop nationwide, because about that number of people subscribed to newspapers just for the outdoor news.  In areas where fishing and hunting are considered important recreation, reader reliance on newspaper information is much higher, as high as 40 percent in markets like Madison, Wis., and Atlanta, Ga.

©Copyright 2008. Jordan Communications