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Wild Turkey

Photo courtesy of NWTF
For many in Alabama spring not only represents a time of new vegetation and warming temperatures but also a time of lost sleep and miles traveled along woods roads and fields. This insomnia is brought on by their dogged pursuit of the monarch of the spring woods, the wild turkey. Alabamians have been chasing turkeys for the past 60 years. It has been said if you can consistently call in and take a mature gobbler in Alabama you can take one anywhere in the country. The wild turkey is a wary and fickle bird. 

Alabama currently boasts more wild turkeys than any southeastern state based on non-scientific population estimates with huntable populations in all 67 counties from the Appalachian foothills to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.   The bag limit of one gobbler per day and five per season is the most generous in the country. In addition, Alabama hunters enjoy one of the longest seasons in the country.

The restoration of the wild turkey in Alabama and across the nation is considered one of America’s greatest conservation success stories. The turkey population in the state was estimated to be as low as 10,000 in the early 1900s. These alarming conditions prompted Alabama’s conservation movement which led to the restoration, protection, management and research efforts that ultimately helped revive wild turkey numbers to a level that provides excellent hunting opportunities today. Alabama was a keystone state in the restoration of the wild turkey across North America. Numerous turkeys were trapped and relocated across the state and country. Due to efforts of this type, there are now huntable populations of wild turkeys in 49 states. 

Photo courtesy of NWTF

The wild turkey requires a diverse habitat which is provided by well managed woodlands interspersed with open areas. Proper habitat management for turkeys often includes prescribed burning, the creation of wildlife openings, periodic disking in fallow fields and timber harvest management. 

Our staff is involved in ongoing region wide research and statewide data collection to monitor the status and productivity of our turkey populations. In addition, Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division wildlife biologists are available to assist landowners in developing and maintaining good turkey habitat on their property.  The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and Auburn University are currently testing standardized, scientific methods to measure wild turkey productivity.  WFF biologists and AU researchers are exploring the feasibility and efficiency of using game cameras to measure poult survival.  This project, with funding assistance from the Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, began in 2006 in the Conecuh National Forest and has expanded to regional applications in Alabama.  The value of this standardized method is currently under evaluation for practicality of use and has shown some promise in some applications.     


Wild Turkey Project Study Leader

Assistant Wild Turkey Project Study Leader

Steve Barnett
Supervising Wildlife Biologist, District V
30571 Five Rivers Blvd.
Spanish Fort, AL  36527
(251) 626-5474
steve.barnett@dcnr.alabama.gov
Joel Glover
Certified  Wildlife Biologist
1995 Cherokee Road
Alex City, AL  35010
(256) 329-3084
joel.glover@al.usda.gov


 

 

 

Download the The Alabama Wild Turkey Book 

 

 
The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries has conducted an annual mail survey to obtain harvest and man-days of hunting information since 1963.  The survey provides excellent trend data for biologists to evaluate and assist with management decision making processes.  Mail surveys for the past several years are available on the publications page of this website.

 
Charts highlighting Alabama's turkey harvest information are available by clicking here.  

Poult Hen Count Results - Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologists have conducted informal poult/hen counts for the past three years.  The methodology does not follow a strict scientific process but does provide trend data regarding wild turkey reproductive success.  Biologists record observations of all turkeys (hens, poults, and gobblers) and each observation during any day was recorded separately.  Observations were collected statewide and the data were separated by five WFF districts, by six physiographic regions (Limestone Valleys & Uplands), Appalachian Plateau, Piedmont Plateau, Blackland Prairie, Upper Coastal Plain, and Lower Coastal Plain), and by public or private lands.  Please click on the links below to view the results of each survey.

2010 Poult/Hen Counts

2011 Poult/Hen Counts

2012 Poult/Hen Counts

 

 

 

Official Web site of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
©2008 Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources   |   64 N. Union Street, Suite 468 - Montgomery, Alabama 36130