"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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2006 Wild Turkey Harvest Sets New High
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

The Return 

The ancient den keeper has returned from a bout with a stroke, and a 38-day stay in two different hospitals. This time (the second) the stroke settled on the right side to make typing somewhat difficult. But we will give the column bit a shot.

Hoosier hunters bagged a record-total of 13,193 turkeys during the spring season, 18 percent greater than the 2005 hunt and a record harvest, says Steve Backs, wild turkey biologist.

Here’s generally the way Backs sees the season in a glance:

The 37th wild turkey hunt was held April 26 to May 14 with harvest data collected at 329 check stations throughout the turkey range. Hunters harvested 13,193 wild turkeys in 79 of the 88 counties open to hunting during the 19-day season. 

The 2006 harvest was a new high and an 18-percent increase over the 11,159-bird harvest of 2005. Counties with high kills (499 birds or more) were Switzerland (562), Dearborn (489), Perry (470), Jefferson (461), Parke (444), Orange (440), and Harrison 431). 

Approximately 61 percent of the harvest occurred during the first five days of the season with 32 percent occurring on weekends. Approximately 70 percent of the harvest occurred before 10 a.m. and 79 percent by noon with 15 percent occurring in the period from 3 p.m. to sunset. Unlicensed landowners/active military personnel accounted for 19 percent of the harvest, more than twice the proportion of previous years.

Based on spur measurements taken at check stations, juveniles (one year old birds commonly referred to as “jakes”) made up 14 percent of the harvest; two-year-olds 67 percent, three-year olds and older, 19 percent. 

The average weight of jakes was down from previous years, below the mean 15.5 pounds for the second year in a row. 

The proportion of jakes (14 percent in total harvest) was considerably lower than the 25 percent mean of the last 10 years, and the lowest jake proportion of more than 25 years. Adults (two-years old-and/-older) made up 86 percent of the harvest with the proportion of two-year-old gobblers (67 percent, the highest in 37 years of Indiana spring wild turkey hunting. 

Reasons for the 18 percent harvest include the high brood production during the summer of 2004, and 2005, the continued increases in both the turkey population and the number of hunters. The abnormally low juvenile and high adult proportions in the age structure of the harvest reflect the contrasting record high and low brood production during the respective 2004 and 2005 summers. The number of hunters afield was estimated at around 51,000 with an estimated hunter success of 26 percent.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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