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Feeling Somewhat Better About the 2010 Hatch

We’ve had more rain this June and July than during any previous summer I can remember. As such, I haven’t been too optimistic about the 2010 turkey hatch.

Heavy rains can decimate turkey broods during that critical two-week stretch when poults and their flock hens roost on the ground. In Wisconsin, that period starts about June 5 — which is when the rain started this year. And when I didn’t see many poults through early July, my layman’s prognosis for the hatch was pretty gloomy.

But a funny thing happened on the way to doomsday. Poults started coming out of the woodwork. This week, I saw a hen with about eight to 10 poults and a mixed flock of two adult hens and six to eight fuzzballs. This morning on the way to work, I slowed down for two hens with two chicken-sized poults.

I’m not suggesting central Wisconsin’s 2010 hatch will break records. However, if nothing else, the sightings provided visual confirmation of what I should already know: Even during the worst springs, turkeys still pull off some reproduction. And even if turkey numbers are somewhat lower for a couple of years, it only takes one or two years of good production for them to bounce back. After all, turkey populations essentially replace themselves in about four years.

So I guess I’m breathing a guarded sigh of relief. On the other hand, that completely blows a good excuse for getting whipped next spring.

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