Wild Turkeys

November 30, 2018
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Casper - Game and Fish personnel along with volunteers in the Black Hills completed counting wild turkey poults and classifying adult wild turkeys.  The annual effort is aimed at estimating reproductive success (via brood surveys) and tom numbers (via classifications) in Wyoming’s premier Merriam’s wild turkey population.  According to Newcastle Wildlife Biologist Joe Sandrini, this year wild turkey reproduction and survival in the Black Hills was about average, along with the number of toms observed per hen.  2018’s numbers follow above average production last year and bode well for hunters this fall and coming spring.
The chief objective of brood counts is to assess annual reproduction in a population of wild turkeys.  Brood surveys can also be used to gain insight into population trends and evaluate the distribution of wild turkeys during summer.  Wild turkey poult production and survival seem to be the primary factors influencing the dynamics of Merriam’s wild turkey populations, as winter survival of hens most years is good. Brood count data are analyzed by tracking records over several years to establish average production and a normal range of variation.  After several years of records are compiled, data from each successive year can be compared to determine if production is above or below average.

Data from the past twenty years from Wyoming’s Black Hills suggest that the change in spring gobbler harvest is correlated with the average poult per brood ratios two years prior.  This makes sense considering the vast majority of toms harvested from the Black Hills in the spring are two-year-old toms.

“Wild turkey hunting this fall in Black Hills has been better than the past few years,” Sandrini stated.  He also added that he expects there to be an improvement in the upcoming spring season too.
Hunters are encouraged to check the Game and Fish website for more information on wild turkey hunting, with the fall season in the Black Hills open until the end of November.  They may also contact wildlife biologist, Joe Sandrini, to talk turkey.

Poult per hen; poult per brood, and tom per hen ratios along with averages (dotted lines) in the Black Hills since 2008.


- WGFD -

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