Outdoors notebook: Keep your eyes open for wild turkeys

CorrespondentJuly 2, 2014 

The season closed two months ago, but turkey hunting continues – without firearms. Sharp-eyed hunters and non-hunters alike are needed to help count the wild birds.

Through Aug. 31, the N.C. Wildlife Commission is asking volunteers to observe wild gobblers, hens and poults and enter the sightings into an online database. The entries give state biologists – and surveys and research analyst Ryan Myers – information about annual productivity, gobbler carryover and other population trends. These numbers are used in the management of the state’s more than 260,000 birds.

“We’re looking to expand our sample sizes across the state as much as we can,” Myers said by phone Monday. “The more data we get, the more confident we are in our assessment. … We could not do this without the public.”

Volunteers include members of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s state chapter, which supported the restoration of the state’s turkey population from about 2,000 birds four decades ago.

Bryan Perry of Zebulon, who this year joined the 18-member NWTF national board, offers tips for summertime observations of turkeys, which, he said, sometimes can be spotted in the shade along field edges.

“Look earlier in the morning and later in the evening when it’s cooler and the sun is not so direct in the sky,” Perry said. “(The dark-feathered birds) get so much heat on them in the middle of the day. You don’t see lots of animals out during the day in the summer.”

Perry said accurate counts include avoiding counting the same birds on multiple days, and Myers urged observers to pause to watch for hidden poults, or young turkeys.

“Often poults are difficult to see in the grass, but if observers can take the time to look closely and get the accurate count, that’s the most helpful,” he said. “And this is for hens without poults, too. A lone hen may indicate she had a nest failure. That’s what we’re interested in knowing.”

Find the survey link at www.ncwildlife.org/summerturkeysurvey. Find hunting data at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/SeasonsLimits/HarvestStatistics/WildTurkeyHarvestReports.aspx. For questions, email ryan.myers@ncwildlife.org.

Fish for free: Test coastal waters, mountain streams and all public waters in between on Friday when anyone can fish for free. From 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m., no fishing license or additional trout fishing privilege will be required. Find places to fish and check regulations at www.ncwildlife.org/fishing.

Tickets available: Fans who want to see bass fishing icon Jimmy Houston or “Duck Dynasty” regulars Justin Martin and John Godwin still have time to purchase tickets for Ridgecrest Outdoor Ministries Sportsmen’s Banquet on July 26 in Durham.

Durham’s Bethesda Bluegrass Band will perform, as will country comedian Lee McBride. Vendors also will be set up, organizer Rod King said. For tickets, call 919-471-8662 or go to www.ridgecrest.cc.

Commission meeting: The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will meet at 9 a.m. July 10 at its headquarters, 1751 Varsity Dr. on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. A live audio webcast will be available at www.ncwildlife.org under Public Notices and Pending Rules.

Send news and announcements to outdoors@newsobserver.com.

Boggess: boggess.teri@gmail.com Twitter: @BoggessT

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