Wildlife - Wild Turkeys

2012 Wild Turkey Summer Survey

Wild Turkey Reproduction Drops Slightly This Summer

Unlike the the last two years, wild turkey recruitment decreased in 2012 based on a S.C. Department of Natural Resources survey.

Annually since the early 1980's, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducts a Summer Turkey Survey to estimate reproduction and recruitment of turkeys in South Carolina. The survey involves agency wildlife biologists, technicians and conservation officers, as well as many volunteers from other natural resource agencies and the general public.

Although wild turkeys nest primarily in April and May in South Carolina, the survey does not take place until late summer, according to Charles Ruth, DNR Deer and Wild Turkey Program coordinator. Therefore, the survey statistics document poults (young turkeys) that actually survived and entered the population going into the fall.

Although reproduction in 2010 and 2011 were the best in a number of years, indicators were not quite as strong in 2012, said Ruth. Average brood size of 4.2 poults remained consistent, however, the total recruitment ratio of 1.9 was down about 15 percent. Recruitment ratio is a measure of young entering the population based on the number of hens in the population. This figure was driven by a high percentage of hens that had no poults (55%) at all, the highest percentage in 5 years. "At the regional level it appears that reproduction was only fair in most of the state with the lower coastal plain showing slightly better indicators."

What does fair reproduction in 2012 mean for the spring turkey hunter? Ruth indicated, "Harvest trends have followed the trends in reproduction in recent years and we saw a significant increase in harvest this spring which coincided with the better reproduction in 2010 and 2011. Although reproduction was down this summer there should be a good carry-over of mature gobblers (2 year old birds) available during spring of 2013 due to the good reproduction in 2011. Another positive note, said Ruth, is the gobbler to hen ratio remained good with a statewide average of 0.78, the highest in a number of years. Many experts believe that when gobbler to hen ratios get below 0.5, the quality of hunting can be impacted because hens are extremely available which affects gobbling and responsiveness to calling by hunters.

"The bottom line," Ruth said, "the state's turkey population remains about 15 percent below record levels of 10 years ago. Although the harvest has increased a little the last couple of years, we need better reproduction for several years to get the population back up. That is the nice thing about turkeys; given the right conditions they can naturally bounce back in a short period of time.

“Anyone interested in participating in the annual Summer Turkey Survey is encouraged to sign-up”, said Ruth. The survey period is July 1-August 29 annually and those who participate typically spend some reasonable amount of time outdoors during that time period. Cooperators obviously must be able to identify wild turkeys and must be comfortable in telling the difference between hens, poults, and gobblers. Cooperators are provided with survey forms prior to the survey and a reporting notice and postage paid envelop at the end of the survey period. If you would like to participate in the survey, send your name and address to Summer Turkey Survey, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202. You will be added to the cooperator list and receive materials at the end of June annually. Those interested in the survey can also download instructions and survey forms at the following website:

http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/turkey/volunbroodsurvey.html

Figure 1. Map of physiographic regions for 2012 Summer Turkey Survey.

Map of physiographic regions for 2005 Summer Turkey Survey.

Table 1. Summary of reproductive data for 2012 Summer Turkey Survey by region.

Region Gobbler
Hen
Ratio
No. Hens
w/Poults
No. Hens w/o
Poults (%)
No.
Poults
Average
Brood
Size
Total
Recruitment
Ratio
Piedmont
0.68
576
726 (56)
2,261
3.9
1.7
Midlands
0.74
122
205 (63)
551
4.5
2.1
Northern Coastal
0.84
163
227 (58)
679
4.2
1.7
Southern Coastal
0.91
369
311 (46)
1,565
4.2
2.3
Statewide
0.78
1,208
1,472 (55)
5,085
4.2
1.9

Table 2. Statewide Summer Turkey Survey reproductive data 2007-2012.

Year Gobbler
Hen
Ratio
No. Hens
w/Poults
No. Hens w/o
Poults (%)
No.
Poults
Average
Brood
Size
Total
Recruitment
Ratio
2007
0.77
904
1,269 (58)
3,240
3.6
1.5
2008
0.71
1,504
1,446 (49)
6,336
4.2
2.1
2009
0.66
1,296
1,499 (54)
4,889
3.7
1.8
2010
0.69
1,687
1,151 (41)
7,508
4.5
2.6
2011
0.76
1,442
1,223 (46)
5,987
4.2
2.3
2012
0.78
1,208
1,472 (55)
5,085
4.2
1.9
Average
0.73
1,340
1,343 (50)
5,508
4.1
2.1

Table 3. 2012 Summer Turkey Survey Results.

County No. Observ. No. Poults No. Hens w/ Poults No. Hens w/o Poults No. Hens % Hens w/o Poults No. Gobblers No. Unid. Total Turkeys Observed
Abbeville
62
206
45
45
90
50
83
18
397
Aiken
78
43
11
86
97
89
125
69
334
Allendale
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Anderson
15
29
7
10
17
59
34
0
80
Bamberg
6
64
10
4
14
29
33
0
111
Barnwell
159
203
75
92
167
55
190
93
653
Beaufort
14
68
15
8
23
35
23
0
114
Berkeley
197
732
156
94
250
38
285
24
1291
Calhoun
9
14
9
17
26
65
5
0
45
Charleston
40
140
34
29
63
46
28
0
231
Cherokee
20
42
17
12
29
41
41
15
127
Chester
29
55
12
34
46
74
49
1
151
Chesterfield
2
0
0
1
1
100
0
3
4
Clarendon
15
27
8
11
19
58
16
29
91
Colleton
31
174
37
20
57
35
20
2
253
Darlington
25
100
20
10
30
33
27
0
157
Dillon
4
25
6
1
7
14
2
0
34
Dorchester
5
32
8
1
9
11
5
0
46
Edgefield
39
97
27
36
63
57
17
8
185
Fairfield
54
234
48
98
146
67
82
22
484
Florence
7
6
3
9
12
75
10
1
29
Georgetown
50
116
39
95
134
71
80
21
351
Greenville
9
38
10
15
25
60
11
0
74
Greenwood
44
119
35
60
95
63
59
8
281
Hampton
28
109
24
57
81
70
36
33
259
Horry
26
38
15
26
41
63
34
46
159
Jasper
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Kershaw
22
58
17
9
26
35
13
0
97
Lancaster
18
23
9
26
35
74
7
0
65
Laurens
11
22
4
13
17
76
1
18
58
Lee
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Lexington
12
15
5
18
23
78
13
0
51
McCormick
30
91
23
36
59
61
17
4
171
Marion
29
76
19
21
40
53
25
9
150
Marlboro
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Newberry
91
344
69
84
153
55
196
29
722
Oconee
34
77
23
30
53
57
30
2
162
Orangeburg
5
43
10
6
16
38
0
0
59
Pickens
59
213
49
39
88
44
79
10
390
Richland
46
250
52
26
78
33
43
5
376
Saluda
16
37
9
8
17
47
12
11
77
Spartanburg
61
152
40
49
89
55
49
25
315
Sumter
45
171
28
48
76
63
44
29
320
Union
138
511
127
134
261
51
116
9
897
Williamsburg
46
291
53
54
107
50
132
4
534
York
2
0
0
0
0
0
5
10
15
State Total
1,633
5,085
1208
1,472
2,680
55
2077
558
10,400

The 2012 Summer Turkey Brood Survey above is provided in Adobe® Acrobat® (PDF) format. Adobe® Reader® is required to open this file and is available as a free download from the Adobe® Web site.
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