As this is being written during the third week of January winter has arrived. We have made an initial purchase of 10,000 pounds of corn and have distributed it to 2,062 Wild Turkeys scattered over our 13 county areas. If everyone picks up their supply of corn we will be over extended and will make another corn purchase. Turkey numbers have fallen significantly over our entire area.
Two gobblers and three hens! The first tracks of the winter, ending the suspense that some of “my” birds were surviving.
Historically, turkeys were only found in the most southern tier of counties in Michigan. Our northern flock is artificial. They need help to make it through a Michigan winter. We distribute corn, plus some individuals feed the birds on their own and, of course, they raid bird feeders intended for their small cousins.
Once again, with deep snows since the middle of November in many areas of northern Michigan, and bitter cold (down to -25 one memorable night) in January, with the continued ban on feeding deer which still has many people afraid to even fill their bird feeders, we are once again up against the wall when it comes to trying to get our wild turkeys through the winter. And once again, many of the chapters are once again conducting feeding programs, with the birds either being hand-fed or the feeders up on platforms, inside trailers, or whatever necessary to keep the deer away.
As we head into another fall and winter season, the impact of the DNRE’s ban on feeding of white tailed deer anywhere in Michigan’s lower peninsula is now becoming apparent.
For the first time in many, many, years, there will now be no fall turkey hunting season anywhere at all in the northern lower peninsula-all due to a decline in wild turkey populations, proof that although it is NOT illegal to feed wild turkeys to get them through the tough winter months, people were, and still are, afraid of being ticketed for accidentally leaving a kernel of corn on the ground that the neighborhood deer ate.
Last year, before my hunt started, I hadn’t heard a peep out of anything; then, on opening morning, gobblers were sounding off from all points of the compass and I collected one in just about one hour.
Now this year, on the afternoon before my season, at least three toms were gobbling, and this is a bit unusual for late in the day. These guys were lonesome and a lonesome tom is a vulnerable tom.
The next morning I was in the same tent blind as the previous year. There was some gobbling off the roost, but not a lot.
The following is intertwined between the PM Chapter and state chapter activities since the March issue of Michigan Turkey
On 1/16/10 attended the National Wild Turkey Federation annual meeting/board of directors meeting at Big Rapids. It was hoped that common ground could be found on turkey management and hunting regulations between our two organizations. It appears that we are still on different paths.
We attended a meeting of MUCC’s conservation coalition on 2/3/10 in Lansing. A number of conservation issues were discussed. At these meetings we find what the issues and thoughts are of other organizations and perhaps find common ground.