The "Rona" made us better turkey hunters

Discussion in 'Iowa Long Beard Conference' started by antleraddiction, May 19, 2020.

  1. antleraddiction

    antleraddiction Member

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    I think everyone had a little more time to turkey hunt this spring due to the virus. Harvests are way up across the majority of the state. Crazy the jump some counties had this year.

    Turkey Harvests 2.jpg

    I also created this graph for my own curiosity. I was always told that the bobcats have "done a number on the turkeys." The harvests from each county that are in the bobcat zone (listed below) were totaled and graphed on another line. I know this doesn't tell all but if bobcats truly altered the turkey population then I would suspect the harvests in these counties to go down over time as bobcat numbers have increased (maybe 2007 isn't as early of a data point as what's needed to see this trend).


    Graph.jpg

    Bobcat zone counties :
    Adair
    Adams
    Appanoose
    Cass
    Clarke
    Davis
    Decatur
    Des Moines
    Fremont
    Henry
    Jefferson
    Keokuk
    Lee
    Louisa
    Lucas
    Madison
    Mahaska
    Marion
    Mills
    Monroe
    Montgomery
    Page
    Pottawattamie
    Ringgold
    Taylor
    Union
    Van Buren
    Wapello
    Warren
    Washington
    Wayne
    Audubon
    Cedar
    Cherokee
    Clinton
    Crawford
    Dallas
    Guthrie
    Harrison
    Iowa
     
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  3. muddy

    muddy Administrator

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    It didn't make me a better hunter so much as it gave me more opportunities to get out there. The kids and I had a rough 3 weeks there in the middle with more people out turkey and mushroom hunting.
     
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  4. sep0667

    sep0667 Land of the Whitetail

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    Very interesting graph, nice job making those. Some of those counties the trend is a little startling. What is going on in Van Buren county?? Its dropping bad. Lot of the counties that are dropping are east/southeast. Wonder if that is where the turkey disease has started to entered the state. Hope a lot of people are sending in a leg to the DNR to help them better track that. With all the social media platforms/pages out there I don't see much posted about getting or reminding people to do that.
     
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  5. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    FWIW, my farm is in NE Davis County and Van Buren County is about 250 yards away. Van Buren in 2020 is less than half of what it was in 2007 and Davis is at 2/3 of what it was in the same time frame. Frankly, I am surprised to see that the harvest totals now have only dropped by that much. I estimate the population today in my area at 10%-20% of what it was 10'ish years ago.

    I will say that the harvest stats only tell part of the story here. I always let some friends hunt turkeys at my place and between the two of them and about 11-13 days of hunting apiece, they did bag a total of two birds out of a possible four. I hunted twice myself and netted zero birds, but did not "hit it hard" and came awfully close to nailing one on one morning, but it was also one of just two that I heard gobbling that morning. I used to hear 15-20+ separate gobblers per morning BB*. (* BB = Before Bobcats)

    At my strong urging, my friend did submit his leg(s) for the study...I hope they are able to determine something that can be addressed. Driving around the area at this time of the year, one could see dozens of turks...now on the same route you might see one or two total...or none.
     
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  6. Ishi

    Ishi Waiting For October

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    I submitted four turkey legs two from this and two from last year. It’s very easy and they pay the return postage!
     
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  7. sep0667

    sep0667 Land of the Whitetail

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    I'm sure bobcats absolutely hinder turkeys. A bobacat finding a some young turkey poults i'm sure is an easy snack for them. Bobcats are neat to see, but I would rather hear gobbles and see turkeys.
     
  8. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    One thing that we saw with some frequency about 4-8 years ago, not so much anymore since the turkey population is so low, is dead ADULT turkeys. These were predominantly found in the late winter while shed hunting or while mowing in the summer.
     
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  9. Matthewfox_45

    Matthewfox_45 Active Member

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    Not saying bobcats don’t kill turkeys, but what’s more readily available and easier to catch,kill, and eat...rabbits, songbirds, and mice, or turkeys? I’m thinking there’s another vector causing the turkey population to decline.
     
  10. Matthewfox_45

    Matthewfox_45 Active Member

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    I googled bobcat diet study and found a study done in Iowa. Out of 100 bobcats that had their stomach contents sampled, there was 1 that had turkey. Far more had deer which surprised me. Rabbit was the overwhelming item present. It’s an interesting read.
     
  11. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    Not trying to be argumentative, but what was the time frame that the study examined? I believe it was the fall period...not winter, not summer. It stands to reason to me that bobcats, and all predators, would first take the easy prey in the fall of the year, rabbits and squirrels, etc, and then once there were fewer of them available they would switch to grouped up turkeys in the winter, etc.

    There is no study that I am aware of that tracks a bobcat's food preferences for all 12 months of the year. I think they are missing something with the studies that I am aware of. Just my opinion. Although I do also acknowledge that there could, and very well may be, other vectors...perhaps like a disease, etc.
     
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  12. JNRBRONC

    JNRBRONC Moderator

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    Better? Well, last year I didn’t buy a license. This year did and went out once (unsuccessfully).


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  13. Brett Morris

    Brett Morris PMA Member

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    Had an NWTF biologist on our farm numerous times this spring. She made it very clear the NWTF has not found any data in any state to support bobcats equating to the decline of turkeys. Very few turkeys eaten annually by bobcats. There are several new diseases that are much bigger risks and their outlook isn’t too bright, LPDV being one. Not doom and gloom but certainly not great.
     
  14. Khughes2345

    Khughes2345 PMA Member

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    What about owls? Seems easy pickins for an owl to swoop down and knock one right off the roost. They had a turkey biologist on MeatEater podcast few weeks back. Talked all about turkeys and that was one of their main predators.
     
  15. Daver

    Daver PMA Member

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    I have also talked with various DNR personnel and also at least one NWTF person over time and had the same conversation with all of them that you had...only when I asked them about their data and what time frame it covered they either didn't know OR were a little surprised when I asked them if a predator such as a bobcat may well prey on some species more or less at various times of the year.

    I have heard from multiple people about "The Study" that showed little to no turkey in the diet of the bobs...but while there may be some value to that effort...it by no means is a complete study in my book, as I am pretty sure all, or almost all, of the bobs sampled came from hunter/trapper capture and were taken in November, I think the first two to three weeks of November. I know of no study that sampled stomach contents throughout all 12 months of the year, nor did any of the many DNR/NWTF personnel that I have talked to about this.

    In fact, in at least a couple of those conversations I was politely advised that wet springs, of which we have had at different times, were more of a detriment to turkey recruitment than anything. OK...I understand that a wet spring can radically impact nesting success...but a wet spring CANNOT explain a dead adult bird...and during the decline period we found many of them.

    I have found, and people that I know well, have found way too many adult turkey, fully consumed, carcasses at other times of the year to dismiss bobcats. It is plausible that a disease killed them and then a coyote or bob or whatever then found them and ate them. So yes, the disease angle is very possible IMO. But even if a disease did take them out, then I find it interesting that we have never found one yet that was dead and not consumed.

    So, if it is disease, and not bobs, something with a big appetite has found every single one of those that we have found. While not conclusive, it is very curious to me if it is disease, and only disease, that some larger predator has always found them and eaten them before anyone else can find them. So even if it is ALWAYS disease that kills them...how come their study found essentially no turks in their stomachs? Unless it was coyotes getting every one of the free meals, then the research is taking place during a time of the year where bobs are passing up these freebies. It doesn't add up to me.
     
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  16. scottonbuck

    scottonbuck Active Member

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    My biggest concern is lack of hens, without hens we wont have eggs to hatch. Farms i used to see 15-20 hens on i now see 2-3, not good. Next year is not looking promising
    from 07-20 the harvest in Van Buren county has reduced by over 50% and that is as prime of turkey habitat as it gets. used to be able to gravel travel and see turkeys everywhere, now your lucky to see any from the road.
     
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  17. 6x6

    6x6 PMA Member

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    My turkey numbers in the Loess Hills are also way down. I still winter a big flock around my standing corn, but you can hear them sounding off every evening from predators around the roosting area. When spring green up comes they disperse to the bare cattle timber pastures around my farm, making it tough hunting at times lately


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  18. Jbohn

    Jbohn Active Member

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    I found 2 nest walking Switchgrass this year during the season . Eggs in a both where all busted and cleaned out. I would think Coons ? I'M sure all predators play their part. Got to hatch first..
     
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  19. jkratz5

    jkratz5 Super Moderator

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    I traveled through Missouri and hunted Kansas this year and have been doing this for the last 10. Turkey population in KS is 20% of what it was 10 years ago and Missouri seems waaaayyyuu down.
    I wonder if there is a relation to the southeast part of the state and the disease spreading from the boarding states
     

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