This year's numbers should match up pretty well with last year's. The number of involved wildlife employees should be roughly the same as it was in 2012, and the observations will be made only during observers' on-the-clock hours.
Johansen estimates, though, that it will take four to five years' worth of consistent reporting before the annual brood report can be considered wholly reliable.
"That's about how long it will take to develop reliable trend data based on the new system," he said. "But even this year, we should have a good idea what's going on. Our confidence [level] might not be as high [in the data], but we'll be able to tell whether turkey broods are trending up or down."
The danger, Johansen added, would be for hunters to compare brood-report data from before 2009 with reports generated afterward.
"We're dealing with different protocols, so it's almost impossible to determine a trend based on pre-2009 numbers," he said.
Why should hunters consider turkey brood reports important? Well, mainly because 2-year-old gobblers have a profound effect on spring gobbler season outcomes. They're old enough to be actively gobbling and interested in mating, yet they're inexperienced enough to be called in and ambushed relatively easily.
DNR officials have found that the number of turkey poults hatched in a given year has a direct effect on the spring season two years down the road. The higher the brood count, the higher the corresponding harvest tends to be.
"Right now, we're tightening up our methodology so we can have reliable numbers from year to year," Johansen said. "I think we're making good progress."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.