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WILD TURKEY

The combined spring and fall harvest in 2002 was 16,193, and ranks as the seventh highest kill (Table 7). There were no counties opened to limited permit hunting during the fall of 2002, but more counties (30) were open to a general fall season than any year since 1970.

 

Work is progressing on a new publication on the wild turkey to primarily update wild turkey research and management since 1968. An interesting research accomplishment since last year was the development of a predictive harvest model of the spring harvest two years in advance.

 

With the financial assistance from both the national office of the National Wild Turkey Federation and their West Virginia Chapter, mast, survival, and home range data from several research studies are in progress or being completed. Analysis of over 30 years of mast data of trees like white oak and chestnut oak, indicate that there is a significant amount of synchrony in the state, or in other words, when white oak mast is abundant in one part of the state, it generally is elsewhere.

 

Research of banded gobblers indicates that West Virginia hunters are very effective in harvesting spring gobblers. Data showed less than 30% of the gobblers survive from one year to the next, and survival appears to be among the lowest rates reported in the literature. These preliminary results indicate that our wild turkey gobbler population should be researched thoroughly so knowledge may be gained to assure we maintain quality hunting for the only big game species hunted in the spring. The DNR and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have prepared a research project to study gobbler survival, gobbling, and gobbler behavior beginning in 2004. Hopefully, funding will be secured from the National Wild Turkey Federation to allow us to address this important research need.

 

Preliminary results from the analysis of the home range sizes of 279 hens measured throughout the State are among the largest reported in the country. The average annual range of a West Virginia hen covers over 8,000 acres. Hen home ranges varied widely by season and age of a bird with the fall range and juvenile birds having the largest home ranges. Home range centers of hens shifted seasonally with the greatest shift (5.9 miles) made between the winter and spring ranges. Hens in our Eastern Highlands (mainly Monongahela National Forest counties) and in the southwestern counties were found to have larger home ranges than other areas of the State.

 

Click On Link Below For PDF Version of Table 7.

Table 7. Total Spring And Fall Wild Turkey Harvest, West Virginia, 1966-2002.
(PDF format, 4.82KB

Click here to get acrobat reader (You will need Acrobat Reader to view this file)



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2003 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources