What is the biggest threat to a healthy turkey population in north Texas? Is it bobcats, raccoons, yotes, snakes, or? I get rid of every bobcat and coyote that I can, but i don't pay any attention to the raccoons, should I get rid of them too for the sake of having more turkey? Thanks for any input.
Curious as well... Last year, for the first time, we started seeing turkey. First, a hen on game cam for about a month, then she disappeared. Come Spring, she showed back up. We don't have an open season in Navarro county, so one morning while coyote hunting, I started in on the box call. Ended up having two toms come strutting in! I'd like to help the population.
I would think that keeping the coon population in check could only have a positive impact. My son was trapping coons for a while and we have a lot of turkeys around. We had quite a few before, but they seem to be hanging in our area more lately. We also discovered that they like protein pellets, so we mix in about 25% in our feeders in the areas that they like. I've also heard that fire ants are a big threat for ground nesting birds. Not that we can do much about that.
I have heard fire ants are the problem in Texas for Eastern birds. If that were the case you would think it would be the same in other southern states like LA, MS, AL, GA and FL but that is not the case there. The ones mentioned are predators for turkey for sure and throw in Hawks, owls, and even Squirrels like an egg if they can get it.
Several studies have shown Squirrels are the main predator of quail eggs and have been told by some biologists in Mississippi squirrels also will eat turkey eggs.
lf the saying "Liar, Liar your pants on fire" were true Mainstream news might be fun to watch
On my place I rarely have a good hatch. I do not have a raccoon problems since I trap them year round. I rarely see a raccoon on cams and if I do I set the traps to catch them. So raccoons are not an issue on turkey nests. I do have a lot of bobcats and always have had so I think they work on them from the time they hatch till adults. I do not target bobcats when I kill predators when hunting nor trap them. There are a lot of fire ants here in very wet times so they might be an issue.I have also found dead turkeys next to a HF or just a pile of feathers up in the hill country at the time when Golden Eagles were migrating thru each year. I had a friend who was into quail management back in the late 90's. Around his ranch (10,000 acres more or less) he built about 100 fake quail nests(not all at one time) and put a trail cam on them to monitor them. What he found on his place in Atascosa County was that hogs found or destroyed over 60%(63% IIRC) of the fake quail nest he had made. Coons and skunks were the next most common in the pics. He also had possum, snakes and few other things on cams.
Around here, I would say coyotes before they hatch. Immediately after they hatch, I would say fire ants. After they get on their feet, switch back to coyotes, foxes, bobcats, etc. and maybe feral cats until they get bigger.
Cheers, Vern1 Texans since The Old 300 in 1824 NRA Lifetime Member
Skunks and raccoons did the most damage to ground nest (turkey and quail) on the ranches I used to guide on. Deer feeders throwing corn attract more than deer. Other critters come in and try to setup house keeping close to those groceries. When they get established their homes become the grocery store for other critters.
We have an old trapper that comes sometimes, his wife swears that armadillos are the worse on turkey eggs. She said that the armadillos can smell when the eggs are nearly formed and then raid the nests. She kills every armadillo that she sees, and claims that the turkey population had improved.
"Man is still a hunter, still a simple searcher after meat..." Robert C. Ruark
I once heard that a raccoon can smell a wet hen and will go to that smell to raid the nest. Also heard that if predators are extremely high in numbers then the gobblers won't gobble as much since this gives their position away to predators. Not sure if any of that is true but I do know the last 3 yrs in Coryell County TX we have not heard very much gobbling in spring time even though we have a lot of turkeys.
Re: Biggest threat to turkey eggs and poults
Crows, when they see a hen on the nest the pesky devils aggravate her till she gets up and moves and then they peck the eggs.
This....plus birds of prey like owls have somewhat of an impact. Big owls will see a hen on the nest at night and snatch her and eat her according to a recent study. You may get the occasional coons and opossums that happen to wander nearby and get a whiff, but crows are the worst!
Hogs, coons, and opossums are the biggest threat to the eggs. Our family place in Georgia got overrun with hogs several years ago and the turkey population has almost completely depleted. Glad my family sold that portion of the farm.
Fire ants are the number one enemy of turkey as soon as they pip(crack their shell). The ants are drawn to the moisture from the egg and the turkey has no chance once found. The second most destructive would be hogs, eggs don't stand a chance against them. I hunted turkey on property that did not have hogs up until about 5 or six years ago and now they are very prolific and I have watched the decline of the turkey population every year since seeing signs of hogs all over the areas. It really is tough to face this situation since there was a tremendous huntable population until the hogs. As far as managing any huntable population of game, you number one priority should be hogs, dogs and cats and in no particular order. If you see it, kill it.
I think nest robbers are the biggest problem. Turkey aren't known for being intelligent nest architects. I've seen them next in the two foot shoulder between the county road and our fence with our farm road on the other side and an natural wildlife highway. Ferral hogs, opposums, racoons, skunks are the biggest problem in my mind.