Picking ‘em off One by One
By Blake Hamilton
With Turkey season over it leaves us sharing stories we’ve collected from the previous season and the anticipation for next year. While hunting seasons may end, the wildlife management never ends. We as are constantly developing strategies on how to make the habitat better and improve our wildlife population. The quality of hunting is a bi-product of our hard work and dedication. Now is a better time than any to make a positive difference on next year’s turkey population.
Limiting factors for turkeys include: predation, disease, and habitat loss. Many of us strive to maximize the quality of habitat which supplies the needs of turkeys. Quality habitat will reduce the percentage of diseases and parasites. However, many folks overlook the importance of predator control. With the decline of trapping furbearers, predator hunting, and other factors, turkey populations are affected. Predator control is a vital part of managing for turkeys. Studies have shown that over 50% of turkey mortality is due to predation.
Trapping rules and regulations must be checked and followed within each state before implementation. Predator species known for affecting turkey populations are: hawks, owls, crows, snakes, opossums, raccoons, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, feral dogs, etc. Some of these species such as raptors (hawks, owls) are illegal to kill. However, we can still reduce their effectiveness by planting plenty of cover and removing obvious lookout trees. If you have a tall, bald “perch tree” overlooking prime nesting habitat, remove it! Don’t make it easy for the raptors to spot and take a free meal from you.
Predation control should occur year-round and now is a great time to begin. Learning trapping techniques and strategies is an interesting concept that can implemented on any property of any size. Trapping can provide: fellowship with family and friends, revenue from furs and significantly benefit the population of your turkey flock. While minimizing pressure and providing food and cover sources are great; trapping is a vital part of the equation for optimum wild turkey management.