By Randy Zellers
LITTLE ROCK — Hunters can help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission track hunting effort and success throughout turkey season this spring by signing up to be a part of the annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey. It’s free to participate and your responses will help shape future wild turkey management in Arkansas.
The spring turkey hunting survey has been in place since 2007 to gather information on hunter activity, gobbling activity, turkey observations and hunting success throughout turkey season. Volunteers record data from each hunt and send the results to be analyzed at the end of the hunting season. Biologists then compile all the data to identify trends in hunter participation and satisfaction and provide a report for all hunters to compare notes.
Historically hunters recorded their information on paper survey forms and mailed the forms in at the conclusion of hunting season. With advances in mobile technology, the AGFC has transitioned to a new system using a smartphone app called Survey123. The new app makes it easier than ever before to record and submit your information at the conclusion of each hunt.
The latest round of warm weather has spurred many Arkansas turkey hunters to begin their scouting for this year’s longbeard, knowing it takes some legwork to be successful in the turkey woods. Jeremy Wood, Turkey Program Coordinator for the AGFC, says this scouting data is just as important to the survey as data recorded during hunting season.
“Monitoring hunter reports from throughout the state before and during the season really helps complete the picture of how turkeys respond to certain changes in temperature, weather and hunting pressure,” Wood said. “We can track trends in gobbling activity, flock breakup and other factors that influence turkey hunting and turkey reproduction.”
“We are conducting other surveys, such as brood surveys and telemetry studies that will look more in-depth into population characteristics, but this survey is designed around hunter participation, expectations and satisfaction,” Wood said.
Wood says an additional survey hunters can participate in to help the AGFC monitor turkeys will begin after the season is over and looks at reproductive success once hens have hatched this year’s brood.
“Hunters and outdoors enthusiasts are our largest partners in conservation, and we want to work with them every chance we get to benefit the wildlife they love,” Wood said.
Visit www.agfc.com/turkeysurvey to participate in the Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey or Annual Brood Survey. You may also contact Wood at [email protected] or call 800-364-4263 to learn more about these surveys and other ways to help the AGFC keep tabs on Arkansas’s turkeys.