You have to go back to 2007 to find a total state turkey crop worse than what the total ended May 8 this year. The total in 2007 was 24,319 turkeys harvested. This year, the total is 26,852, which is a 15-year low.
The best year for the turkey crop was in 2010, when the spring crop ended at 36,097. This year’s finale and the 2010 finale is a difference of 9,245 birds.
I spoke this week to my good friend Jim Strader, who is the host of the Jim Strader Outdoors 2-hour radio show on WHAS-84 AM from 6-8 p.m. every Sunday night. I asked him if he had his two pigeons and his answer was “No”. I asked why. His response was that he had no turkey to hunt. Where he usually hunts, there were no turkeys. He said it gets worse every year and there are no turkeys on the land he hunts.
I heard the same thing from different turkey hunters here in Hardin County. They had plenty of turkeys to hunt, but none this year. Also, many hunters who know me have asked what happened to all the turkeys. They claim they used to drive and see flocks in the fields and now they don’t see a single bird.
Hardin County was for years among the top five counties for the largest crop in the state. Hardin didn’t even make the top 10 this year. Hart County and Grayson County have always been there with Hardin County. This year, Hart County managed to rank fifth in the state for best harvest with 460 overall. Grayson County finished just outside the top 10 with 376 and came in 13th overall. Hardin County placed 11th with 460.
Other counties that touch Hardin County’s borders were Breckinridge County, which came in ninth place with 432. Nelson County finished with 313 while Meade County finished with 180. The county total de Larue was 169 and Bullitt County had 107.
There is a fall season for turkeys, but I haven’t hunted in recent years due to the decline of turkeys. In the fall of 2010, 4,451 were harvested. Last fall in 2021, the state total for the fall was only 1,577. The total harvest for the spring and fall in 2010 was 40,548. The total for the spring and fall in 2021 was only 30,566. That’s a difference of almost 10,000 birds (9,982).
There could be various reasons for the decline and not enough space in this article to explain them. On last Sunday’s radio show, Jim Strader had Dr. Michael Chamberlain, a wild turkey biologist at the University of Georgia, and they discussed the reasons and possible solutions to help stem the decline. You can go to Facebook and search for Jim Strader Outdoors. There you will find a link to the show and can download it and listen to the entire show.