Characteristics of Wild Turkey Hunters in Texas

To determine the characteristics of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hunters in Texas, and their attitudes and preferences concerning turkey hunting and management, we developed and mailed a self-administered questionnaire to a sample of licensed turkey hunters in Texas and members of the Texas Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). We sampled 3,500 turkey stamp purchasers and 2,345 members of the Texas Chapter of the NWTF. We received questionnaires from 1,300 (37%) of the turkey stamp purchasers and 748 (32%) of the members of the Texas Chapter of the NWTF. We refer to turkey stamp purchasers and Texas Chapter of the NWTF as nonmembers and members, respectively. For all questions, we compared the Texas Chapter of the NWTF member responses to responses from nonmembers who bought license and turkey stamps. On average, members were older (P=0.02, x =48.9) than nonmembers (x=47.5) and nonmembers reported a greater mean number (P=0.02, x= 17.6) years of hunting turkeys in Texas than members (x= 15.6). About equal numbers of respondents hunted during both fall 1996 and spring 1997. More than 90% of both groups reported hunting turkeys as additional game while hunting white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) during fall 1996. Members (P=0.001), rather than nonmembers, hunted primarily with shotguns during fall 1996 and spring 1997. More nonmembers than members (P=0.001) hunted turkey with rifles, with or without bait, in fall 1996 and spring 1997. However, the majority (>75%) of both groups hunted with shotguns during the spring 1997 season. Members and nonmembers presented slightly different management scenarios to increase turkey production in Texas. Members preferred changing hunting methods as a management strategy. Nonmembers preferred allowing gobbler-only harvest for both seasons and implementing a 1-bird bag limit. Nearly every comparison between members and nonmembers in this study indicated that these were 2 distinct subgroups of the turkey hunting population in Texas. However, members constituted <2% of turkey hunters. Therefore, the attitudes, opinions, and preferences of both members and nonmembers need to be considered when making management decisions.

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