Each year the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) relies on a dedicated group of turkey hunters to participate in the Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey (SGHS). During the SGHS, hunters become the agency’s eyes and ears in surveying the state’s wild turkey population. These individuals record all that they see, hear, and harvest during their springtime hunts, and provide this information to MDWFP wildlife biologists. Since 1996, the SGHS has provided the MDWFP with a comprehensive overview of the well-being of Mississippi’s turkey flock, and helps biologists better understand trends in turkey abundance, gobbling activity, hunter effort, harvest rates, age structure, and the characteristics of harvested birds.
“This survey is unparalleled in the Southeast,” said Adam Butler, a biologist with the MDWFP Wild Turkey Program. “Eastern wild turkeys are nearly impossible to efficiently survey at a statewide or regional scale, but with the cooperation of hundreds of turkey hunters each year, we have a better handle on the trends in our turkey population than we do for most other resident game species. I can’t thank our hunters enough for what they give us.”
All turkey hunters, regardless of their ability or experience, are encouraged to participate in the survey. After signing up, volunteers will receive a data collection booklet in the mail, and will have a chance to win one of two shotguns, once their observation booklet is returned to the MDWFP. These shotguns are donated by the Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and the Mississippi Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. A general drawing will be open to all hunters who participate in the SGHS and report data to MDWFP. An additional drawing will be held for those hunters who recruit a new survey participant during 2013.
Logo courtesy Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks