Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Best Turkey Reproduction On Record

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Best Turkey Reproduction On Record Means Exciting Spring Season

Kentucky Afield
Kentucky Afield

Frankfort, Kentucky – -( Turkey hunters are about to reap the rewards of the best turkey reproduction on record.

“Last year was the highest number of poults ever recorded in the 25-year history of our turkey brood survey,” said Steven Dobey, turkey program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “There are probably more turkeys on the ground now than at any time in recent history.”

Dobey estimates the statewide turkey flock at 220,000 birds. Hunters can match their wits with those wild turkeys soon, with the upcoming youth-only season April 4-5, and the general spring turkey season April 18 – May 10.

“We’ll have a lot of jakes on the ground this year. There will be a lot of opportunity to see a lot of birds, which makes for an exciting hunt,” Dobey said. “However, patience will pay off if you want to go after an older tom.”

Turkey numbers remain high even after January’s devastating ice storm. The resulting ice cover didn’t last long enough to impact turkey populations.

“The damaging part of ice storms, for turkeys, is that it physically prevents birds from feeding,” explained Dobey. “That period of ice cover, while it seemed long to us, from a wildlife perspective probably wasn’t long enough to cause an impact on survival.”

Last fall’s mast (nut) crop, moderate in some areas and good in others, may impact where hunters find birds this spring. In areas where trees produced a lot of acorns, hunters should target the woods where nuts can still be found on the ground. Turkeys will be more scattered in areas that didn’t produce as many nuts. Hunters should concentrate on fields in those locations.

Hunters who plan to hunt public land can learn a lot from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s online Telecheck results, which show public areas with the highest turkey harvest. Go to on the Internet and click on the “Hunting, Trapping & Wildlife” tab, “Telecheck Results”, then “Turkey Harvest Results.” Telecheck results from last spring’s season show several areas in the western half of Kentucky, such as Peabody Wildlife Management Area and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, that posted high turkey harvests.

“As far as locations in general, the Green River Region has the highest production on a statewide basis,” said Dobey. “They have plenty of habitat, agriculture and they have great reproduction every year. That’s reflected in the harvest.”

Tony Black, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s regional coordinator in western Kentucky’s Purchase Region, said hunters should also check out Pennyrile State Forest in Christian, Caldwell and Hopkins counties.

“There are more than 16,000 acres there,” Black said. “Pennyrile is a pretty good place to hunt.”

Black cautioned hunters that wooded areas will be more difficult to navigate this year, as the ice storm left behind low-hanging branches and debris.

“Be careful in the woods this season,” he said. “A lot of our areas still have broken branches hanging in the trees.”

Marrowbone State Forest and Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland and Metcalfe counties is a newly opened southern Kentucky area. It holds a good population of turkeys and is open under statewide regulations for the spring hunting seasons.

The Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky continues to be a productive area to turkey hunt. With fewer forest openings and more mountainous terrain, this area will give hunters a workout.

“You may do more walking, but it’s beautiful scenery, and there is low hunting pressure considering the amount of land,” Dobey said.

For complete spring turkey hunting regulations, pick up a copy of the 2009 Kentucky Hunting Guide for Spring Turkey & Squirrel, available wherever hunting licenses are sold.

Author Hayley Lynch is an award-winning writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She is an avid hunter and shotgun shooter.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, visit our web site at