Palumbo, M. D., F. J. Vilella, G. Wang, B. K. Strickland, and D. Godwin. 2014. Brood surveys and hunter observations used to predict gobbling activity wild turkeys in Mississippi. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 5(1):151-156. https://doi.org/10.3996/032013-JFWM-023
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks utilize data from turkey hunter observations and brood surveys from across the state to manage wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) populations. Since 1996, As part of their annual report the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks’ (MDWFP) personnel and cooperating wildlife managers have collected gobbling, jake observation, and brood survey data to comments on spring turkey hunting quality based on jake observations and brood survey databetter forecast poult recruitment and hunting quality. This is a common methodology among state managers to describe to the public upcoming hunt quality. Our objective of this study was to determine evaluate if MDWFP’s survey data can be used as a viable predictor of gobbling activity and hunt qualitythe relationship of the data used to make predictions of hunt quality. We used 3three mixed models to investigatinge the relationship of between number of gobblers heard per hour of hunting (expected hunt quality) to and the number of jakes seen observed per hour of hunting one year prior (model 1 ), the number of gobblers heard per hour of hunting to and the total number poults per total hens observed 2 years prior (model 2), and the number of jakes seen per hour of hunting one year prior to and the total number of poults per hens 2 years prior (model 3) from 1996 to- 2008 among 5 wild turkey management regions encompassing the state. We incorporated year and region as random effects to account for spatial and temporal variation of data sources. We determined found that model 1 (P = 0.001) and model 3 (P <0.001) displayed significant relationships. We recommend managers to useincorporate hunter observations of jakes seen per hour of hunting the previous year as an indicator of statewide gobbling activity, rather than the brood survey data. Gobbling activity is influenced by a multitude of factors and further research is warranted to determine statewide relationships.