Gobbler Promises

Wildlife biologists are not generally known for their bold predictions so maybe Kentucky’s Steven Dobey was feeling frisky when he promised Bluegrass State gobbler hunters their best season in a decade when Kentucky’s spring hunt opens April 17.

Okay. Dobey (the turkey biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources) didn’t actually promise Bluegrass hunters the gobbler of a decade, or even their best hunt of a decade.

He said 2010 “looks like one of the best seasons in the past eight to 10 years.”

For a biologist that’s still pretty bold talk.

Thanks to a record hatch in 2008, Dobey has reason to be optimistic. So do hunters.

I don’t know how they count these things but in 2008 turkey hens across the Commonwealth of Kentucky produced average of 3.7 chicks per hen. Life in the wild is hard and who knows how many survived. But enough survived so that a big bunch of two-year-old gobblers are prowling the woods this year. And as turkey hunters everywhere  know two-year-old gobblers are the testosterone-fueled teenagers of the turkey woods. They do the most gobbling and fill the most tags.

All this means that another record-setting year is almost certainly on the horizon. Kentucky hunters bagged 29,007 birds last spring – nearly 11,000 more than just a decade ago – and 30,000 plus this spring is certainly a possibility. I don’t particularly care to put a target kill number on any species for an upcoming hunting season. It’s a pointless exercise. But the resurgence of turkeys not only across Kentucky but across the country is one of the brightest examples of wildlife restoration successes of the past half century.

30,000 birds? Unimaginable. Until now.

* * *

Also . . . the planned kayak trip was washed out by an 1 + inches of rain. I don’t really mind fishing in the rain but not in a small plastic boat. Hope to get back on the water sometime this week.

* * *

And thanks to my friend Alan Clemons www.clembone.wordpress.com for the nice words about this blog. Alan and I have spent most of our working lives around newspapers, so we share a common ancestry, of sorts. Clemons has since gotten out of the newspaper business (which was sad news for his many readers). But you’ll find him at his blog and also at the Benton, Ky.-based Professional Anglers Association www.FishPAA.com, where he is continuing his excellent work as communications director.