Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Summer Turkey Survey Sighting Results 2013

DEC conducts the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey annually during the month of August to estimate the average number of wild turkey poults (young of the year) per hen statewide and among major geographic regions of the State. This index allows us to gauge reproductive success in a given year and allows us to predict fall harvest potential. Weather, predation, and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival.

View, print, or download the complete 2013 Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey report (PDF) (512 kB).

In 2013, there were 338 records of hen-flocks. Reproductive success from the 2013 survey was about 2.7 poults/hen. This is lower than 2012, and is below the 10-year average (about 3 poults/hen). Production steadily improved from 2009-12 after the low observed in 2009, but four of the past six years production has been below the ten-year average. About 20% of the hen-flocks observed in 2013 did not have poults (vs. 18% in 2012 and 23% in 2011). This is worse than last year, but similar to the ten-year average (20%).

In 2013, production in several DEC Regions was close to the statewide average (Regions 1, 3, 5, 7, 9). We observed improved production from 2012 to 2013 in Regions 1, 3, and 7 (these regions were close to the five-year average), and a decline in production in Regions 4, 6, 8, and 9. Even though production declined in Regions 4 and 8, the poult/hen estimates were above the statewide average. It is important to note that the estimate for Region 8 is based on reports from only 10 hen-flocks, so it may not accurately reflect production there.

Below-average rainfall for the first three weeks of May provided good nesting conditions in many locations, but cold and rain at the end of May, and higher than normal rain in June may have negatively impacted nest and brood success in many areas. It is important to note that turkeys in areas with favorable weather may still experience low nest and brood success due to poor habitat quantity and quality on a local or landscape scale (e.g., lack of brood-rearing habitat and/or a poor mix of habitat types).

Based on good production in 2012, but a decline in production from 2012 to 2013, we anticipate that the fall 2013 harvest will be below last year and below the ten-year average (about 9,700 birds). In addition, good growing conditions this spring and summer and plentiful hard mast has resulted in an abundance of food available to turkeys this fall. Birds may have to roam less in search of food making them less vulnerable to hunters.