Turkey hunters have a reason to celebrate this season. The Missouri Department of Conservation says wild turkey production is up for the second year in a row. Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle says this is a good thing because the increase numbers of turkeys mean a lot to Missourians. “So by having production up, we have more turkeys out there on the landscape which is certainly encouraging for a lot of folks, especially considering that we had poor production from 2007 to 2010,” he says. Isabelle says the hatch of turkeys born this year and in 2011 should help increase the number of turkeys in total throughout the state.
Isabelle says turkeys are the kind of species where their population can fluctuate dramatically based on the success of the hatch or the annual production. This year’s poult-to-hen ratio exceeded a five-year average in all nine of Missouri’s turkey-production regions and survey numbers show a dramatic improvement. From 2007 to 2010, the statewide poult-to-hen ratio ranged from 1.0 to 1.2. This year’s survey showed a ratio of 1.7, the same number as last year and up 42 percent over the average of the previous five years. “Missouri from the period of 2007 to 2011 had poor hatches and so the good hatch of 2011 and then this year, should help to increase turkey numbers throughout much of the state,” he says.
The increase in production does have a lot to do with the dry weather conditions of the past few months and Isabelle says research shows turkeys tend to have better production when there’s drier weather, which is why the numbers have increased in the last two years. “For quite a few years we struggled with a lot of rain and cool temperatures during nesting. In the spring and summer of 2011 were drier than a few years previous to that, which probably helped our production and of course, this year we were in the grips of an extreme drought,” he says. He says more moderate weather conditions are preferred for turkey production, but he says that despite the drought and turkeys being a hearty species, they ended up having an increased production.
AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:020