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What Makes A Turkey Gobble?

Biologist Gary Norman is testing a microchip that will record the date and time of a wild turkey's gobbles in 2004. 

"We know that wildlife react to changes in barometric pressure, rainfall and wind speed," said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, NWTF's vice-president of conservation programs. "How they sense these changes and exactly why they react is the question."

"Weather affects wildlife in the same way that it can affect people's attitudes and behaviors. Hot, cold, dry and wet weather determines our dress, umbrella use and recreational activities. The same weather determines if turkeys sit late on their roosts or fly down to feed.

Gary Norman, NWTF technical committee member and biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is testing a microchip that will record the date and time of a wild turkey's gobbles. The microchip is placed in radio collars, and the information will be compared to weather records, which should determine when turkeys are most likely to gobble. If successful, the microchip will help biologists determine those factors that affect gobbling. Armed with that information, wildlife agencies should be able to fine tune season dates to coincide with peak gobbling activity and improve hunter satisfaction.

Norman said that lab studies have been successful, and that the microchip would be tested on captured turkeys in the spring of 2004.

Because change is a huge factor in how weather affects wildlife, the study and the microchip will go a long way in answering many questions about behavior. Wildlife are more in tune with nature and weather patterns because survival depends on their response to nature.

Timing hunting and fishing trips with changing weather patterns can increase the chance of success, especially if the trip can be made immediately before or after heavy rain or a weather front.

"Deer and turkeys feed heavily before and after a front," Kennamer said. "What we want to learn is their activity levels during days of continuous weather. How active are wildlife during a week of sunshine, or a week of rain?"

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is a great resource for turkey hunting tips and other wild turkey information. Visit the NWTFs website at www.nwtf.org for information or call (800) THE-NWTF to become a NWTF member and receive one of our great magazines filled with turkey hunting tips and stories. 

About the NWTF: In 1973 when the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded, there were an estimated 1.3 million wild turkeys and 1.5 million turkey hunters. Thanks to the work of state wildlife agencies and the NWTF's many volunteers and partners, today there are an estimated 5.4 million wild turkeys and approximately 2.6 million turkey hunters. Since 1985, more than
$135 million NWTF and cooperator dollars have been spent on over 15,000 projects benefiting wild turkeys throughout North America.

The NWTF is a 390,000-member grassroots, nonprofit organization with members in 50 states, Canada and 11 foreign countries. It supports scientific wildlife management on public, private and corporate lands as well as wild turkey hunting as a traditional North American sport.
 


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