2013 Wild Turkey August Brood Survey
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) recognizes the importance of the hatch for wild turkey productivity and the relationship the hatch has to spring and early summer weather conditions. Starting in summer 2006, IFW asked their staff and volunteers to record observations during the month of August in an effort to track the hatch and build an index into the annual productivity of Maine's turkey population. We now have a healthy, harvestable population in many areas and need to monitor that population more closely in an attempt to fine-tune wild turkey management in Maine. In addition, there are still areas that have the potential for initial or additional hunting opportunity. This can be in the form of a spring turkey season, or a fall season where a spring season already exists. An important criteria when considering opening an area to spring or fall turkey hunting is the productivity of the turkeys in that area. Maine's wildlife managers use the August brood survey information to determine which wildlife management districts have a stable enough population to support initial or additional hunting opportunity. Your participation in this survey will help us monitor the year-to-year variation in productivity to better manage Maine's wild turkey population and help ensure the existence of the this grand bird for future generations of Maine hunters.
Those interested in keeping track of turkey observations only need to write down the number of gobblers, hens and poults, as well as, the size of the poults they observe during August (see survey form (MS Excel) for further instructions). Results are compiled annually on a statewide and regional basis to allow wildlife biologists to look at trends in production and how the hatch differs from region to region.
Out of all the information summarized from the August Turkey Sighting Report, the number of poults per hen is the essential statistic. This number includes hens that were unsuccessful at raising poults, either because they did not attempt to nest at all, lost their nest to predation or the poults did not survive to the time the survey was conducted. It is important to incorporate these unsuccessful hens into the poults per hen number because if we had a year with very poor turkey production and we only looked at how many poults per successful hen were observed, we might be fooled by the number and think all is well. Combining both successful and unsuccessful hens into the poults per hen number allows us to see the big picture. Also important is the size of poults observed. Early hatched poults could be 3/4 grown by August, while late hatching birds would be about 1/4 grown. During winters that are harsh, poults only 1/4 grown in August have a lower chance of survival and recruitment into the harvestable spring population. Therefore, it is not only important to understand how many poults per hen were produced, but approximately how old they are as well.