NWTF survey enhances scouting and hunting
To borrow from lyrics written by Roger Waters, indeed it has been a helluva start for the National Wild Turkey Federation Pennsylvania State Chapter Hunter Co-op Survey — but the project could truly become a monster if even more turkey hunters participate and all pull together as a team.
Organized and managed by Pennsylvania State Chapter treasurer and board member Jim Panaro, contributing to the Hunter Co-op Survey requires minimum effort from participants who keep a written record of what they see and hear during preseason scouting. Recording that information continues once the hunting season begins, and after the season the daily information is transferred to an Excel spreadsheet and emailed to Panaro.
Participation has seen a slow, but steady, increase in each succeeding year by both members and non-members of the NWTF. Information compiled and reported plays a major role in allowing for recommendations to be presented to the Pennsylvania Game Commission about conservation of the statewide population of wild turkeys.
Obviously, the more participants in the survey, the more details are available about the state of the wild turkey in Pennsylvania. And even with Mentored Youth Day less than two weeks away and the regular season opening April 27, there is time to join the team by contacting Panaro by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a spreadsheet by return email.
“I realize that some may have already started scouting, but that will be OK,” Panaro said. “If you have documented any prior notes fill out the form using them, and if not, just start today.
“We use an Excel spreadsheet, but before anyone panics, it is pretty simple, as it is just filling in numbers and a little bit of data. I would like everyone to try to do all this electronically, but with a large group, it is probable that we have a large range of skill levels in working with these things, and we can work through it,” he said. “Everyone obviously has email, so we are off to a good start. Please don’t hesitate to email or call me at (814) 344-6632 if there are any questions about how it will work.”
Through trail-and-error, Panaro said participants have found it best to save the original copy of the survey on their computer, then save it again with a unique name as their personal copy. Most also print out a minimum of two hard copies of the form, keeping one in their vehicle to record sightings and another at home to transfer the information before entering it on the electronic form.
Codes for what to fill in the different columns are shown at the top of the columns, and it is important not to deviate from these.
In mid-June Panaro will email a reminder to all participants to submit their completed forms. Once received, he will cut and paste everyone’s information to a master spreadsheet, do some basic analysis of data and when completed email a report to everyone that participates so they can compare their findings to the rest of the state.
“Please make sure that the WMU column is intended to be where that day’s activity occurred, not where you live,” Panaro said. “If you are seeing flocks of turkeys please only enter data if you have a pretty accurate if not exact count on the number of birds and can provide a good estimate — if not an exact count — on the split between hens and gobblers.
“For example, seeing a bunch of turkeys while zooming down the interstate and saying you saw 50 turkeys isn’t good enough. Also, please limit data to Pennsylvania only for the multi-state hunters out there,” he said. “While I’m always curious how green the grass is in other pastures, it won’t help our database. For that reason don’t modify the order of the columns or add any columns in the electronic spreadsheet, but if you have additional information to add, send it in a separate email.”
Those who are serious about spring gobbler hunting are a dedicated fraternity. Participating in the survey will enhance the experience before and during the season.
Doyle Dietz is a board member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.