Though early reports seemed to indicate poor turkey reproduction last spring, Taylor said subsequent reports have been more encouraging.
"What I'm hearing and what I'm seeing is that we had good reproduction," he said. "Now will our brood report reflect that? I don't know."
Taylor's uncertainty stems from his agency's 2011 decision to reduce the number of people who report turkey brood sightings. Previous reports had been taken from hunters, from mining reclamation inspectors, from Natural Resources Police officers and from DNR biologists or game managers.
Now, only DNR personnel are allowed to report brood sightings, and only sightings made during working hours. Taylor said the new system "might take years" to become a reliable indicator of turkey reproductive success.
"It will take a while before we can look at the new brood-report numbers and know for sure whether they indicate a rise or drop in reproduction," he said.
Whether there are more or fewer turkeys, Taylor said one thing is for sure - hunters' ability to find them will depend on mast conditions in the areas the hunters choose to hunt.
"This year, it seems like mast is either abundant or it's nonexistent," he explained. "In some areas it will remind you of 2010, when we had a record-breaking mast crop. In other areas it will remind you of 2009, when we had a complete mast failure. The secret will be finding areas where mast is abundant.
"In places of abundance, the availability of food will concentrate [turkey flocks] for quite some time. For example, if you find grapes late in the season and find turkey sign there, you can bet the turkeys will be there until all the grapes are gone."
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.