After an exceptionally cool and wet fall, winter began in Area J just before Christmas, and with the exception of a brief thaw in January, hasn’t let up since, with more than 136 inches of snow so far. But even worse than the deep snow has been the extreme cold, the coldest any of us have seen in many, many years.
How any wild turkey can survive in these conditions is amazing to all of us, but if they’re being fed, they’re in amazingly good shape. Unfortunately, with a poor mast crop in most areas last fall, no organized feeding program and a continued poor economy, it is not expected that a lot of birds will survive, unless they have been able to get to one of the many uncut corn fields in the area, or someone is feeding them. Fortunately, the price of corn is down by more than $2 per 50 pounds this winter.
Area J saw it’s first fall turkey season in a number of years last fall, and although it’s doubtful many birds were taken, a fall hunt does help to cull birds that may not survive the winter anyway, and it is hoped the DNR will approve another hunt this year.
Quotas for this spring are the same as they have been for the last several years, which is surprising considering the fact that our wild turkey populations are lower than they have been for many, many years. In fact, in many parts of Area J it appears that the wild turkey is completely extirpated, due to a lack of winter feeding, and many hunters have indicated they won’t be hunting wild turkey this spring, with both the lower numbers and an increased license fee structure.
If you are hunting in Area J this spring, be prepared to do a lot of scouting, and good luck!