Factors Affecting Gobbling Activity of Wild Turkeys in Central Mississippi

Call counts for a number of gamebirds (e.g., northern bobwhite [Colinus virginianus] and wild turkey [Meleagris gallopavo]) have been used to index population levels and trends and to document species presence or absence. Call counts for wild turkeys have been used for these purposes, but gobbling activity has not been related quantitatively to population size, reproduction, weather, male age structure, or hunting variables. Consequently, we examined these factors as they affected gobbling activity on Tallahala Wildlife Management Area, Bienville National Forest, in central Mississippi, from 1984 to 1995. Using multiple linear regression, we determined that within-year gobbling activity was related to hunter effort, days into call count period, wind velocity, year, and dewpoint. Among years, gobbling activity was related to hunter effort and hunter success. An index to proportion of 2-year-old gobblers in the population was correlated to an increased number of gobblers heard, but not number of calls heard. Gobbling activity was influenced by a complex interaction of population and environmental conditions that cannot easily be modeled. In central Mississippi, gobble call counts were not related to gobbler population size, and their applicability in other areas warrants examination.

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