Simmons’ Turkey Report with Jeff Simmons:
What’s the outlook for this year’s turkey season? We’ve spoken with Cody Cedotal, the turkey leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Baton Rouge. This is what he tells us:
Based on reported harvest data, the 2018 turkey harvest was down only slightly from that of 2017. We had a lot of things working against us. This year, the 2018 poult (young turkeys) survey results seem to be encouraging. Although the final version of the report is not quite complete, I can share with you that the survey indicated higher reproduction in 3 of 5 Management Regions that of 2017. The Western Longleaf Pine, Southeast Loblolly, and North Mississippi Delta management regions experienced increased reproduction in 2018 compared to both 2017 and 2016 based on our survey. Hopefully conditions will dry out throughout this Spring and early summer and we can see this trend continue.
I am hopeful that 2019 will bring us another moderate-good season overall. We have been conducting some research in western LA were we have seen decent numbers of birds including both jakes and mature gobblers. No doubt gobbling has commenced in some areas, but based on my personal observations and reports I have received up until now, gobbling activity has been very inconsistent with birds gobbling a few times some mornings and not at all on others.
There is cause for concern in most of Area C, since much of this area will once again be impacted by a Spring flood based upon current forecast for the Mississippi River stages. This will decrease habitat availability for birds and access for hunters on both private and public lands. It could also have negative impacts on reproduction in that area yet again.
High water during Spring and early Summer is always concerning. This is a critical time as hens are nesting and raising broods. With river levels still rising, another “Spring” flood is being forecast. Depending on timing and duration, this could be detrimental to wild turkey reproduction in some of our bottomland areas and even force season closures on some WMAs. We are currently monitoring this very closely.
In closing, I’d just like remind everyone to be safe in the turkey woods and report your harvest! Good luck this season!