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NORCAL

GIVING THANKS

FOR TURKEYS A VETERAN GOBBLER HUNTER SHARES MEMORIES By Don Black

S

ome 10,000 years after California’s native turkey species went extinct – hunters can’t be blamed since there was no population to speak of – thanks to hunters, gobblers thrive in the state. Initial attempts to establish populations with pen-raised birds released into the wild largely failed, as they did across the nation. Authorities agree that the successful introduction of wild birds captured and then relocated to various states where hunters clamored for the opportunity to hunt this iconic creature was made possible with the development of the cannon net. Family groups captured under those nets

and then released into appropriate habitats went forth and multiplied. State wildlife agencies, volunteers, and hunters, along with the invaluable aid of scientific study and resources of the National Wild Turkey Federation, rightly claim credit for the restoration of these animals once feared close to extinction. With the explosion of their numbers, states began offering hunting seasons. California’s first was a fall hunt in 1968, followed by a spring hunt in 1971. Most early planting efforts were in the national forests and especially on private lands of lower oak savanna, where the newcomers would have the best chance of isolation and protection, allowing them to best establish their num-

Author Don Black (inset) has become something of a turkey whisperer among his hunting buddies who, like him, look forward to both fall and spring gobbler seasons year after year. (DON BLACK)

calsportsmanmag.com | APRIL 2018 California Sportsman

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