North Carolina turkey hunters shouldn’t expect a big change in the number of birds they see afield during the spring season, according to the 2015 brood survey that was recently released.
Chris Kreh, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s upland game-bird biologist, said that, statewide, poult survival was about 2.0 per hen, a figure that has been considered an “average” hatch and one common in North Carolina over the past 10 years, when survival estimates have ranged from 1.7 to 2.7 poults per hen.
“It’s important to note productivity alone doesn’t predict potential changes in the turkey population,” Kreh said. “The overall population has increased greatly during the same time period.”
The statewide flock, estimated at 150,000 in 2005, is now estimated to number 265,000 birds. The harvest over the same period of time has risen from 11,706 to 17,828.
Participants in the survey observed more than 10,000 hen turkeys and 5,000 gobblers; the 0.51 ratio of gobblers to hens is about on par with what the survey has shown over the past 10 years.
“These (figures) indicate if quality spring gobbler hunting is to be maintained, additional pressure shouldn’t be placed on the male segment of the turkey population by increasing season length, opening the spring season earlier or increasing the bag limit.”
The survey indicated that of hens that were observed with broods, the average was 3.7 poults per hen in the coastal region, 3.8 in the Piedmont and 3.4 in the mountains. However, slightly less than half of the hens observed did not have broods, and that brought the overall productivity down to 2.0 in the coastal and Piedmont regions and 1.9 in the mountains.
“Wild turkey productivity is evaluated by examining observations of hens and poults,” Kreh said. “The percentage of hens with poults indicates nesting success, while the percentage of poults to hens shows poults survival.”
Participants reported observing 10,486 hens, 17,622 poults and 5,311 gobblers during the summer survey.