Turkey shoot be­gins in April

Sherbrooke Record - - BROMECOUNTY - By Ann David­son

It’s that time of year again to talk turkey. While those goofy look­ing birds are about to strut their feath­ers in pur­suit of their lovely ladies, hun­ters are ready­ing for the an­nual turkey shoot that starts on April 27 and runs to May 18. From dawn un­til 1:30 p.m. hun­ters each day dur­ing that pe­riod will be per­mit­ted to har­vest a max­i­mum of two birds each as long as the birds have beards.

Game war­dens for District 5’s Brome­bolton Fish and Game Club are re­mind­ing folks that they shouldn’t think that they can ven­ture out cold turkey to track down th­ese clumsy-look­ing birds with­out tak­ing a spe­cial turkey hunt­ing course.

Wayne Royea says that the an­nual turkey shoot has be­come a big hit with hun­ters with eco­nomic spinoffs last year es­ti­mated at $5 mil­lion. In Que­bec a to­tal of 7,796 birds were hunted with 544 taken from District 5. Although bird­ers and hun­ters are thrilled with the re­turn of the species af­ter they had all but been ex­tir­pated in the early 1900s, Royea ad­mits that the down­side of their re­turn and pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion is that farm­ers are find­ing the ris­ing pop­u­la­tion a nui­sance. Some re­fer the in­flux of the species as an in­va­sion with armies of them tak­ing over the fields. “They are caus­ing dam­age to their fields and crops,” Royea said. “They poke holes in the plas­tic wrap­ping of the hay bales, and while they are dig­ging for in­sects they yank up seedlings. They have even been seen din­ing on the grapes in some of the lo­cal vine­yards.”

Their near dis­ap­pear­ance in Que­bec in the early 1900s be­cause of un­con­trolled hunt­ing and the loss of habi­tat demon­strates their re­silience to sur­vival. It was around 2000 that Que­bec’s min­is­ter of For­est and Wildlife launched a project to rein­tro­duce them. They trans­ferred 600 birds from west­ern Que­bec to the Town­ships. By 2008 the pop­u­la­tion had grown sub­stan­tially, enough to open hunt­ing sea­son that would re­strict hun­ters to har­vest­ing one or two birds each, depend­ing on the re­gion

By 2008 the min­istry had re­vealed a sur­plus of tur­keys and saw 2,227 hunt­ing per­mits is­sued. Since then there has been a 30 per cent rise in per­mits while the har­vest rep­re­sented an al­most 23 per cent in­crease between the 2016 and 2017 hunt­ing sea­sons.

Ac­cord­ing to Que­bec Out­fit­ters, the wild turkey is the largest game bird in North Amer­ica. It is prized for hu­man con­sump­tion. Ex­perts at­tribute the suc­cess of the sur­vival of th­ese groundnesters that roost in trees at night to the prov­ince’s milder win­ters, as well as to re­for­esta­tion. War­den Jen­nifer Jones says that th­ese clumsy look­ing birds that have brains that are dis­pro­por­tion­ate to their bod­ies, have ex­cel­lent eye­sight sim­i­lar to the ea­gles.

“I love hunt­ing them,” ex­tolled Royea. “We have a great time out there. We have had bears hoot at us and geese honk­ing. It’s a nice time in the morn­ing just be­fore sun­rise. You have to keep your eyes open for skunks walk­ing. And the wild tur­keys are de­li­cious to eat.”

The next turkey hunt­ing course is March 24 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will be held at the Depan­neur Rouge in Knowl­ton. The price is $71 with 80 per cent of that amount go­ing back to wildlife funds for habi­tat con­ser­va­tion or re­struc­tur­ing. Regis­tra­tion is done on­line. (Se­cu­rite Na­ture) http://www.fedecp.com/les­for­ma­tions/se­cu­rite-na­ture/. Per­mits can be bought any place that sells hunt­ing li­censes, but be fore­warned that the ven­dors will know whether the ap­pli­cant has taken the manda­tory course be­fore­hand.

WAYNE ROYEA

Jen­nifer Jones, game war­den for District 5 and an avid hunter, with last year’s har­vest of two drakes weigh­ing 12 and 18 pounds re­spec­tively.

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