Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 6

population shifts at the January meeting
of the Board of Game Commissioners.
"WMU turkey populations usually
increase when two-week fall seasons
are used, but in many WMUs, we have
employed three- to four-week seasons
with the addition of the Thanksgiving
season," Casalena explained. "The relatively recent inclusion of the Thanksgiving season, which accounts for 14 to
20 percent of the fall harvest now, and
the lingering effects of reproduction
losses caused by cold, wet springs and
more-dramatic spring weather events
are compelling us to take a closer look
at how to reverse declines in some
WMUs."
Other factors that impact turkey populations include predator abundance, insufficient cover - especially for nesting and
brood-rearing, availability of food and
occasionally disease, although recent
research in Pennsylvania has shown that
turkeys here are not being impacted by
West Nile virus like ruffed grouse.
"When you're a wild turkey, the more
holes you get in your umbrella, the harder
it is to survive," qualified Casalena.
But what's so forgiving about these
losses is that hunter declines, warmer
winters, adjusted seasons, and bountiful
fall mast crops seem to have collaborated
to offset their impacts on the statewide
turkey population and turkey hunting.

MOVEMENTS

Turkey movements are governed by a
host of factors ranging from photoperiod
and food availability to disturbances
- excessive calling or encounters with
people - and sudden weather changes.
"When mast and other natural foods
are abundant and weather is not extreme,
turkeys become somewhat nomadic; they
wander more because the availability

6

WHERE
TO GO?
GO?
It's always good to have several hunting places
lined up as spring gobbler season approaches. But
sometimes life gets in the way of your seasonal
preparation.
If you find yourself short of what you need with
the season a week away, or if you are unwilling
to go where you've been spending past seasons,
Game Commission turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena has some general guidance that should help
you sort out which Wildlife Management Unit
might be your best bet to try.
Her data can direct you to WMUs with the
best turkey populations, best hunter success rates
and, if you prefer, the fewest hunters. So, consider
your preferences and shop for a WMU that seems
likeliest to provide the kind of hunt for which
you're looking.
It might be close to home, require a trip to your
upstate camp, or a two-hour ride. But if it gets you
closer to vocal gobblers, it'll all be worth it.
Harvest density, shown in the top map, is the
number of spring turkeys harvested per square
mile over the past three years.
The statewide average is 0.8 turkeys per square
mile, and all WMUs with harvest densities at least
that high are shown in green.
Hunter density, shown in the middle map,
similarly provides the number of hunters per
square mile.
The more-heavily hunted WMUs are shown in
red and those with lower densities are shown in
blue. The statewide average is four hunters per
square mile.
In the bottom map, Casalena established turkey
population rates by comparing 2018 population
statistics to the previous 10-year average population.
Increases are in shades of red or purple,
decreases are in blue.
These statistics might help you plot some of
your upcoming spring turkey hunts. Remember,
though, these figures serve only to point you in
the right direction. Fieldwork is still necessary to
get closer to birds and seal the deal. Good luck
out there!



Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 5
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 6
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 7
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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 21
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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 64
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover4
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