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Scott M

Turkey Chicks

13 posts in this topic

Saw the first brood of the year today. Two hens with no less than 10 chicks and no more than 16 on a hillside of cut alfalfa. Nice little healthy black blobs running around. Hopefully indicative of a good hatch.

Anybody else spying any chicks? I'm seeing a lot more bird activity, perhaps birds are off nests and moving again?

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I've been seeing broods for a couple weeks now. I flushed a hen with 6 fledged chicks today while on an ATV ride checking out a nice looking hunting spot. It holds turkeys I guess. Hopefully they'll still be there come spring.

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the weekend of 28th I saw 3 hens with 10 poults just west of the Waterville Sportsmans Club.

A few days ago, the Mrs. and I drove down to the end of our road/culdesac and saw a hen with at least 8 poults on the road.

The young of the year are looking really healthy. Hopefully this means 3 years down the road there will be some mature toms strutting my neighborhood.

It also helps the neighbors at the end of the street don't have dogs anymore.

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I got a much faster start to poult sighting this year when I pulled up to a marsh and walked over to a tree when nature called. There was a hen about 40 yards away hopping around nervously and alarming putting. I looked under the tree expecting a nest, but upon closer inspection counted 6 fuzzy tan and brown mottled poults frozen to the ground, listening to mother's instructions. Mama was doing a good job trying to distract the predator, so I left them alone.

The march of phenology has never been so obvious to me as this year...I wish I would have done a better job of keeping track of everything!

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I sure hope we have a better hatch around here this year. I'm suspecting the bird I registered on Friday was one of the last few in the valley where we coyote hunted in February. If you recall, we noticed only 3 tracks in the field that day that were from 3 distinct birds.

My son and I went out this morning and had no reponses to our calls in the same area. I've seen very few birds in this area with the exception of the small flock in the front yard of the house in the Valley. Other areas a couple miles away that you could drive by on any given day and see a dozen or more birds have been quiet with no sign of activity.

At this time, I have to say that I will be planning a hunt in another location/different zone than 442 for next spring.

I may have to see if I can figure out what the actual cause of the drastic population decline is. Right now, I currently suspect in this order:

1) The past 3 springs haven't been conducive to a good hatch. This puts the mature birds at that time beyond the average life expectancy this year. No healthy broods to cover the mortality rates of the healthy birds.

2) Poaching

3) Predation

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LEP, what part of 442 do you hunt? I've been seeing more birds than ever in 440 the past two years and know of some people who do very well in 442, maybe it is a very localized decline in population due to heavy predation?

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I live in Le Sueur. The area I usually hunt is just outside of town. Typically while deer hunting, we'd see 50-75 birds. Other areas I used to see large numbers of birds are farther northeast from my hunting area that we could see birds on a daily basis, regardless of time of year. Not much that I know of has changed.

There's also an area just north of where I hunt that would hold large numbers of birds that I could typically call birds from this property. They were non-existant this morning. It was dead silent.

Another area south of town prior to reaching Ottawa would also have birds walking up to the grainery and we've had 11 birds walking wing-tip to wing-tip coming into the decoys. A couple weeks back I did see 5 toms in the field. But even this has been a rare occasion recently.

We've been careful not to take too many birds from one location. We have many areas to hunt throughout 442. Even an area southeast of St. Peter, numbers seem to have declined. When we do see the birds now, it's been one or two here and there. Sometimes we'll hear birds way off in the distance gobbling and responding to our calls. If there's been no other pressure on the birds in these areas. We can give them a couple days to migrate to our location and set up on them again and we've had up to 8 birds come in. But again, this has been rare this year.

The tough part is my son has an open tag yet with only afternoons to hunt for the next 3 days. Friday afternoon where I got my bird, there was a blind across the field 150 yards away. Now tonight, I noticed a vehicle parked on the south road which was there for a few days prior to season H. My guess is it has to be an archery hunter. The problem I have with it is it's on property where he doesn't have permission to hunt, or atleast has asked. The land owner wouldn't have a problem with him being there as long as they knew about it. But the property owner where he's accessing the area has a habit of fibbing a little bit about where the property lines are and has gotten surrounding property owners a little torqued. One of those guys who thinks they can go almost anywhere.

I do agree with the decline being somewhat localized. But as I mentioned in my ealier post, predation is 3rd on my list as to the reason for the decline.

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Sounds to me like the birds have just responded to heavy hunting pressure. Early this year I could see a flock of 50 each morning. After A season hardly see a single in that field. It seemed to take the first hunters to get the winter flocks to finally break up this spring. In central MN, the birds move from woodlot to woodlot. If they get bumped from one, keep moving to the next until they feel secure. It may take a week or longer for them to return to that woods. Add to the hunters, all the other users out there and you add to the pressure multiple times all with the same result.

Also, once the hens start nesting in one woodlot the toms will hover there and not move far leaving only a few stragglers roaming the other woods. But, then it only takes one!

Last, these late seasons...any gobble is a close gobble. Sound just doesn't travel as far as it did earlier.

Afternoons could be the perfect time to catch a straggler moving. Set on a travel route.

Good luck and keep at it!

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What you're saying makes sense Leaddog. What we've been seeing in this area is far from the norm. There's definitely a drop in the number of birds in this area. For 10 years straight, you could go out in the morning and hear birds gobbling, sparring, clucking, putting. You name it, it's been a chorus line. Spring or fall it hasn't mattered. 5 years ago we had a flock of 12 jakes across the field. A person would suspect that some of those would have matured into toms. In talking with that property owner, nobody else has been out there hunting.

Back to da_chise31's topic, I haven't seen any poults yet this year. One of the other areas we have hunted, there is a fair amount of hens. Hopefully the hatch is a good one and a few years down the road, the flock will be back to what it was.

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To the topic - I rarely see any poults, ever. If I do its in August when you can see their heads above the grass. Only been seeing gosling a couple weeks. Seems everything is that much late this year.

Last year with two NASTY hail storms in May and June or July I didn't expect to see any jakes this year. Figured 6 inches of hail killed them for sure. But, I know of 3 jakes taken this spring in the area. These are tough birds!

The birds get ran off my place by hands checking fences, moving livestock, others picking mushrooms, ATVers, horse riders and anyone else that thinks my place looks more interesting the state or county parks. So much so that I most often hunt a friends farm that doesn't see all that disturbance!

Haven't heard any morning gobbling for close to 2 weeks, some just about roost time though.

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Was back down in the Root River Valley for the weekend camping with friends and family.

Some of the people had tags and tried hunting but there was very little action for them.

In all the driving we did, we didn't seen any birds in fields south of Cannon Falls and only one bird while down in the Valley.

We probed several trout streams and drove many of the back farm roads and such off the beaten path. Very scarce for bird activity. I never heard one gobble in 4 days. Needless to say, no poults were seen.

Lots of yotes howling though.

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I should add that I was down by Byron doing some calling for another hunter on Sunday morning. We heard many gobblers in our area unbeknownst to us, we had 3 other hunters closer to the birds than us.

No poults that we noticed, but the coyotes did start the morning with a chorus of howls.

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Some a family of fledglings and mothers cross the river two nights ago...first time I've seen that for the year.

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