Texas hunters hope turkey slump ends next spring

This picture taken Nov. 19, 2015, in Modesto, Calif., shows a turkey selected for a pardon from the Thanksgiving dinner table by President Obama. A class of fifth grade students from nearby Eisenhut Elementary School cheered for their favorite as Foster Farms staffers picked the prized bird. The lucky turkey was selected on Thursday for a trip to the White House, where President Obama will pardon it in an annual tradition. (AP Photo/Scott Smith)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Every year hunters from all around the world flock to Texas to turkey hunt. But over the last decade, Texas Parks and Wildlife says the numbers of turkeys bagged has gone down.

Trophies hang on the wall of Archery Country in Austin – everything shot with a boy and arrow. Dustin Gauvain and his friends hold a little competition Wednesday night – practicing now, so things go well in the blinds.

“You have to practice a lot to get muscle memory. So when you get out there, you’re not thinking about what my mechanics are and all that stuff. All you’re thinking about is aiming down that sight, looking at that turkey,” said Gauvain.

The number of turkey hunters has trended downward. In 1995 almost 120,000 hunters went out. This fall, around 50,000 are expected. Parks and Wildlife has two reasons. First, ranchers have been raising their turkey leases, some as much as a grand for a three day hunt. Secondly, the drought has impacted birds in certain areas of Texas.

“It’s really fun. Maybe people have lost sight of – the fun of that,” said Gauvain.

But parks and wildlife says, good times are around the corner. With the drought ending, turkeys could gobble across Texas in higher numbers next spring. “Love the challenge,that’s the big part about it is – it’s tough,” said Gauvain. “See how many birds I can call in, it’s really fun.”

Because even if the heyday of turkey hunting is behind us, these hunters can’t wait to go back out.

Fall Turkey season ends here in Travis County– and all of our viewing area– on January 3. It picks back up in May.

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