NEWS RELEASE #05-159 Aug 8, 2005 DNR News (803) 734-3950
SPRING WILD TURKEY SEASON IN S.C. RESULTS IN NEAR-RECORD HARVEST
Nearly 50,000 turkey hunters take to the woods annually in South Carolina with hopes of harvesting a wily gobbler, and the recently completed 2005 spring turkey season was no exception.
With a harvest of 14,353 birds, spring turkey hunters in South Carolina bagged the second highest number of turkeys on record, only eclipsed by the 16,348 birds harvested in 2002. Harvest figures were up 10 percent compared to 2004, and this year's success is likely due to excellent reproduction by turkeys last summer.
South Carolina's spring wild turkey season opens April 1 and closes May 1 in most areas of the state and on all public lands with turkey hunting. The season opens March 15 on private lands in 12 Lowcountry counties in the state. Annually, spring turkey hunters contribute more than $16 million in direct expenditures to South Carolina's economy. Results of the 2005 spring turkey season can be found on the DNR Web site at the following address: http://www.dnr.state.sc.us/wild/turkey/ ... yHarv.html For more information, call the DNR Columbia office at (803) 734-3886.
Each summer, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologists, technicians and private cooperators participate in an annual turkey brood survey. Results from last year's survey indicated the best wild turkey reproduction in more than five years. Going into this season, expectations were high because the success of spring hunters is typically linked to turkey reproductive success the previous year. In the Southeast, Mother Nature plays a much greater role in regulating turkey populations than in deer populations. Turkey reproduction and recruitment can be greatly affected by environmental conditions during the spring nesting and brood-rearing season with heavy rainfall or cool temperatures leading to poor reproductive success.
Good reproduction last year definitely showed up in the spring 2005 turkey harvest with the overall increase from 2004 being comprised primarily of young gobblers. Although many spring turkey hunters prefer to harvest only mature gobblers or long beards, biologists typically see an increase in the total turkey harvest following a year with good reproduction. This increase in harvest is generally the result of the availability of juvenile gobblers, also called jakes. The percentage of jakes in the harvest was 26 percent this year compared to only 19 percent in 2004, resulting in the increase in harvest.
Top counties for total turkey harvest were Williamsburg, Colleton, Union, Chester, and Berkeley. However, because counties vary in size, a better method of comparing harvests between counties is the harvest per unit area, for example turkeys harvested per square mile. Using this method top counties were Bamberg, Union, Chester, Anderson, and York.
The recovery of the wild turkey in South Carolina has been a great success story. The bird was rare throughout much of the 1900s, but through trapping and relocating more than 3,500 turkeys on some 200 sites statewide as part of a restoration program DNR began more than 30 years ago, turkeys are now present in all 46 South Carolina counties. The statewide population is estimated at more than 100,000.