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Title: Gobbling of Merriam's turkeys in relation to nesting and occurrence of hunting in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Author: Lehman, Chad P.; Flake, Lester D.; Rumble, Mark A.; Thompson, Dan J.

Date: 2007

Source: Proceedings of the National Wild Turkey Symposium. 9: 343-349.

Publication Series: Not categorized

Description: Timing of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) nesting and peaks in gobbling activity are often used in setting spring hunting season dates. The relationship between gobbling activity, hunting pressure, and nesting chronology has not been studied using hunted and nonhunted turkey populations. We tabulated gobbling activity of Merriam's turkeys (M. g. merriami) in Wind Cave National Park (nonhunted) and Black Hills National Forest (hunted) during spring turkey hunting seasons from 2003­2004. We also monitored female nesting activity (n = 72) in relation to gobbling activity. Peak incubation of nests occurred between 8 and 15 May. During the hunting period gobbling activity during early morning surveys was lower (P = 0.001) in the hunted population (x bar = 4.56, SE = 0.45) than the nonhunted population (x bar = 7.01, SE = 0.52). We observed 2 peaks in gobbling activity: one following winter break-up of flocks, and the other just before or during peak incubation. Gobbling activity was poorly predicted by measured weather and nesting chronology variables (R2 = 0.08). South Dakota's spring hunting season encapsulates the second peak of gobbling activity, with most gobblers harvested (57%) during the prelaying period. Illegal harvest of females was minimal even though females were not generally nesting during peak harvest. Gobbling activity was reduced during the hunting season presumably by the negative association between gobbling and subsequent disturbance by hunters.

Keywords: Black Hills, gobbling activity, hunting, Meleagris gallopavo merriami, Merriam's wild turkey, nest chronology

Publication Notes:

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Lehman, Chad P.; Flake, Lester D.; Rumble, Mark A.; Thompson, Dan J. 2007. Gobbling of Merriam''s turkeys in relation to nesting and occurrence of hunting in the Black Hills, South Dakota. Proceedings of the National Wild Turkey Symposium. 9: 343-349.

 


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