Spring turkey season 2007 should have some "good news" mixed in with more "bad news."
The good news is that reproduction in 2006 was better than it was during 2005, which was a record low for the number of poults per hen in our brood survey.
According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission turkey program coordinator Mike Widner, the bad news is that this better level of reproduction was only evident, for the most part, in two areas -- the central and eastern Ozarks and along the lower White and Mississippi rivers.
"In most other areas, brood production continued to be below average for the fifth year in a row," Widner said.
A summary of the 2006 wild turkey brood survey is available at www.agfc.com/hunting/turkey/gobbler_surv... .
The other bad news is that hunters should expect the number of 2-year-old adult turkeys to be rather low this spring because of the poor hatch in 2005.
"Normally, 2-year-old adult gobblers make up a relatively high percentage of the kill, so this does not signify a good season in many areas. Primarily because of this, harvest was predicted to fall again in 2007, regardless of the season length. The lack of 2- year-old turkeys will affect gobbling activity," Widner explained.
In addition, data suggests that the overall carryover of gobblers and the gobbler/hen index continues to decline, Widner said.
"Hunters often complain about too many hens, but the real problem would appear to be too few gobblers," he says. "Gobbler numbers appear to have come down because of poor reproduction and liberal spring seasons in recent years," he added.
Regionally, data collected in the recent wild turkey brood surveys suggest that spring harvest in 2007 will rise slightly in the eastern Ozarks and continue to decline in the western Ozarks.
It should also decline in the Ouachitas and the Gulf Coastal Plain.
In the Delta and in Zone 17, harvest should continue to inch upward for the next couple of years due to average or above reproduction in 2005 and 2006.
2007 Spring Turkey Season:
March 31-April 1 -- youth hunt, zone 17.
April 7-8 -- youth hunt (statewide except zone 17).
April 7-29 -- zone 17.
April 14-27 -- zones 1A, 4, 4A, 5A, 9A.
April 14-May 4 -- zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10.