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Small- and Big-game Management

Variation in Gobbling Activity of Wild Turkeys in Mississippi

Hunters in southern Mississippi have long claimed that the peak in turkey gobbling activity occurs before the start of the spring season, while hunters in northern Mississippi feel that gobbling peaks too late in the season. In order to effectively address this concern, researchers in small- and big-game management arena are conducting a study on gobbling activity throughout the state. Gobbling surveys were conducted three days a week from February 15 to June 1 to determine the spatial and temporal variation in peak gobbling activity of wild turkeys in Mississippi. Funded by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the study is serving as a model for future gobbling surveys. If scientists find significant differences in peak gobbling activity across the state, it could lead to a restructuring of hunting seasons that will increase hunter satisfaction. Climatic data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather stations that are located throughout the state is also being gathered to determine weather effects on gobbling activity. Another aspect of the project is to conduct a ten year analyses on population trends using harvest and recruitment data and weather patterns. With a better understanding of population changes due to harvest, recruitment, and weather, managers can make better decisions regarding harvest regulations, bag limits, and season lengths. Results of studies similar to this continue to aid officials in making decisions regarding population management of this popular bird.