Turkey totals down in Montgomery County


From the sidelines

Marty Gordon

Turkey kills were down this past season in Montgomery County with only 46 birds. The county had seen a high of 100 in 2013 and 63 in 2015.

In the latest figures from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, a total of 3,120 wild turkeys were harvested in Virginia during the 2016-17 fall turkey hunting season.

Bedford recorded the highest mark with 91 birds. Pittslyvania and Scott counties had 81 and Franklin County 74.

While data suggests Virginia’s turkey population is close to record levels for modern times, fall harvests will fluctuate due to a number of factors including: annual variation in turkey productivity, mast conditions and weather.

Wildlife biologists said turkey productivity or “the hatch” can vary widely due to weather conditions in May and June. In 2016, productivity (2.4 poults/hen) was slightly below our long-term average (2.5 poults/hen). Acorn abundance, which varies by year and region, significantly impacts fall turkey hunter success rates.

In years with abundant acorns, wild turkey home ranges are small, making them harder for hunters to find. Conversely, without acorns, turkeys range further and hunter success rates increase.

The biologists said this year’s acorn production varied by the species of oak trees with the red oak group producing average yields of acorns. In contrast, white oak acorns were below-average for most of the state; however, some areas had bumper crops. With these mast conditions, hunter success rates were likely below long-term averages (12 percent).

The turkey harvest on our National Forests increased from 116 birds in 2015-16 to 134 birds in 2016-17. Due to good distribution of red oak crops, turkeys may have shifted their home ranges to primarily forested National Forests lands.

The overall numbers in our area shows Giles reported 66 birds and Floyd with 40. In 2013, Giles had a high of 66 birds while Floyd had 74.

Last month, Blacksburg outdoorsman Larry Linkous received another honor. His bow kill of a feral pig, wild boar, was recorded as a 29-inch to be fifth largest in the world of record.

Linkous already has the world record for a feral hog killed in Cumberland, Tennessee. That 2009 kill had tusks, which measured at 47 11/16 inches in total.