2008-12-03 / School & Sports

Just another big 'Jake'

by Terry Toole

Michael Chestnut took this fine "jake" during Georgia's turkey season between March and May. Michael Chestnut took this fine "jake" during Georgia's turkey season between March and May. Michael Chestnut took this large tom turkey back during Georgia's turkey season somewhere in Miller County.

Although this was a prize for most any turkey hunter, Michael normally shoots his prey with a camera instead of a gun. He has many fine shots in the wild, especially of turkey and deer.

This photo will be a surprise to Chestnut, since it was taken from his mother's camera while retrieving another photo used in this edition.

According to WRD Wild Turkey Project Coordinator Chris Baumann, Georgia's current turkey population is estimated at 300,000 birds. While the 2008 season was respectable, the harvest levels as expected decreased in comparison with past years' harvests. A variety of factors affecting the wild turkey population and wild turkey habitat account for this, including consistently low reproduction for the past few years, recent statewide extreme weather conditions and considerable habitat loss and habitat alteration in many areas of the state.

"Overall, the state's turkey population is good but in need of a few years of better reproduction and more of an emphasis on good brooding and nesting habitat across the landscape," explains Baumann. "While success rates remain variable from season to season, one major contributing factor continues to be the weather. As we continue to see relief from the extreme drought, hopefully reproduction will rebound, and the future will remain bright for this important game bird."

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