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Too many hens?

swampwalkerswampwalker Posts: 2,359 Captain
Is it possible that we now have so very many hens that the gobblers are no longer having to spend as much time gobbling & searching for a hen. When he gobbles once and flies down to a bevy of them he then may occasionally shock gobble - otherwise he's pretty quiet as a breeds. I don't know if this has any merit - just wondering. I know we see tons of hens all year. I need a biologist to weigh in on this.
The original - "Renaissance Redneck"


  • milkman2231milkman2231 Posts: 188 Officer
    I believe that is the biggest factor in the lack of gobbling. That and the age structure of gobblers on a given property.
    "Guys today don't know what real turkey hunting is. They don't carry on a conversation with the turkeys. They just sit in a blind and wait for the birds to come to them." Denny Gulvas.
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 3,423 Captain
    Dang read my mind!

    Saw groups of 3-6 hens together this weekend. Gobbler nearby and not interested or strutting.

    How long ago was the last hen season?
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,022 Admiral
    Too many hunters.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • Walker DogWalker Dog Posts: 2,155 Captain
    Pinman wrote: »
    How long ago was the last hen season?

    Probably last archery season. Depends on where you hunt at.
  • Walker DogWalker Dog Posts: 2,155 Captain
    Is it possible that we now have so very many hens that the gobblers are no longer having to spend as much time gobbling & searching for a hen.

    As you go around the area(s) you are curious about, keep a running count starting somewhere between mid-June and the first of July and record them for 2 months, or until you can't easily distinguish poults from hens. Classify them as hens/poults/toms. I think you'll be surprised at what you may find if you have a large enough count that isn't biased by repeated observations of just a few groups in the same 1 or 2 locations each time. You can do these counts on a WMA or a large lease, but it won't work on a scale of just a few hundred acres, because you're too dependent on what is using that specific area at a time of year when 1+ yr old males are with other males and the hens are with the poults (i.e. on a smaller property, you may see mostly males or you may see mostly hens with young). The area where I live is like that already.... several hens and their young. We see them most days throughout the year, although we rarely see males during the summer (mostly just during the breeding season).
  • navigator2navigator2 Posts: 22,521 AG
    I dunno where they have disappeared to. Case in point, one brother of mine lives in southern rural Columbia County. He killed a nice gobbler the week after the open this spring on the back side of his property. The next day, I gave a jake a pass and let him walk. Since then he hasn't seen ANYTHING, not even a hen. In the fields behind his property, where birds strutted daily last year, nothing, graveyard. I snapped this photo last June 15 when visiting him (terrible pic, camera phone) where I counted 30 poults and got about half in the frame. It's a mystery.
  • baldona523baldona523 Posts: 77 Deckhand
    Too many hens and my season starts too early. Toms will breed and gobble until all the hens are done, so I don't think that is really possible. The past two mornings I have heard 5-6 birds on a public land spot I kill a tom or 2 every year, I have 4-5 roost spots that there is a gobbler within a 300 yard area every single year. Yet I would hear maybe 1 gobble all morning the first 5 weeks of the season until this week. Then all of a sudden i hear 4-6 birds standing from the same spot. Very frustrating to hunt 5 weeks and hear one gobble all morning then the last week hear 200 gobbles from 5 different birds.

    The other issue I have on public land in the panhandle is I very very rarely see multiple Toms together. 95% of the time or more it is always a single tom. Yesterday morning I'm pretty sure I heard two toms together but never saw them. I just think when there is a single tom and even just one hen he has no reason to gobble.
  • WildManWildMan Posts: 323 Deckhand
    While many believe there are too many hens, you have to remember that less hens will generally result in less gobblers (i.e., hens produce gobblers). Harvesting females of any species is a tool to reduce populations below carrying capacity and in some instances to balance sex ratios. With some species (e.g., deer) this is required as the science shows high populations or skewed sex ratios can have negative effects. With turkeys, the science hasn't yet demonstrated issues with high populations or skewed sex ratios, although, there is some recent data suggesting there may be some density dependent issues whereby reproductive success begins to decline at higher population level (e.g., limitation of quality habitat). Given almost everything in the woods likes to eat turkeys or their eggs, turkey populations are maintained by high reproductive potential. During good years a higher percentage of nests are successful and poults survive which allows the population to increase and during poor years not so much and populations decrease, sometimes a significant amount. The more hens you have, the higher the reproductive potential, thus the population can bounce back faster after a decline and there is generally a surplus of birds during down years. While a low percentage of hens can be harvested when populations are in good shape, it can be risky in that if you harvest too many or harvest them during poor reproductive years you can see a dramatic decline in turkey numbers in a short timeframe.

    I contend that the issue with Florida has more to do with the season being too early, in that the season opens just prior or right during peak breeding when the gobblers have all of the hens with them. Later in the season, you will begin to see fewer hens as they begin to lay eggs, then subsequently start incubating the eggs. At that time, the gobblers start searching for more hens, gobble more, and you can be much more successful in calling him in, however, I generally don't see this until towards the end of the season when many hunters have quit hunting or during some years I don't see it until after the season has ended. My observations are that early in the season the gobblers have hens with them almost all day, during the middle of the season the gobblers have hens with them in the mornings but then the hens have began to lay eggs in the middle of the day making hunting mid-day more successful, then towards the end of the season there are fewer hens with the gobbler in the morning making the hunt much more enjoyable.

    This is the last weekend of spring season in central and N. FL. If you weren't planning to hunt, I would recommend you try to get out there as the timing should be right......

    Just my $0.02 and I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last week.................
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,847 Captain
    I have an open mind on the issue and could be persuaded either way. I do have a tendency to lean towards protecting hens. Virtually ever predator in the woods can and will catch a turkey hen. As where a doe deer unhunted by humans might stand a good chance to live out her entire natural life into old age, I'd put money that the vast majority of hens get picked off by predators sooner or later.

    Now on the other hand, I had a hen on a property in western Marion county that lived for at least 5 years. I could distinguish her from other hens because she had a softball-sized tumor on her breast. Almost every year she'd raise a full clutch of biddies to adulthood. I don't know how old she was when I first started seeing her, except that she was already full sized. I was surprised not only with how I saw her from season to season but also how consistent she was at getting a large clutch of young to full size from year to year. If she's typical of how long hens normally live in the wild, my argument on the issue might be wrong.

    I suspect coyotes are a larger factor in changing turkey behavior. I've seen coyotes several times while turkey hunting for several years now. They definitely come to turkey vocalizations, especially gobbles.
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