If I had a silver bullet I would be a millionaire. I have been having long conversations with biologists here. Weather is a large factor in recruitment. 07 is when we slid downhill and it corresponds with massive flooding we had 2007 to 2010. Then we hit a couple stretches of historic drought and the only thing breaking the drought was flooding. We lost alot of nests last week I am sure. Last year was the lowest recruitment ever recorded in our mail carrier survey. For years hens have been averaging approx .5 poults per hen which obviously isnt a stable popuation. Predators play a role. There are now corn feeders all over for ditch goats which burgeons the coon population. You can somewhat overcome it with good habitat. It may look like it hasnt changed much but it has. Brome and fescue are taking over nwsg. Woody encroachment into grass. Lack of fire on the landscape as a whole (2.5 million acres burned in the Flint Hills this year so not a problem at my local level). Humans also are playing an ever larger role. Turkey hunters are much more efficient than they were even 10 years ago. Those birds that used to live cause they hung up at 70 yards are now going home in someone's truck since they had TSS on a shotgun with optics and a pattern tight enough to kill a bird at 80 yards. I am almost coming to think what we saw in the late 90s early 2000s is an anomoly. Kind of like an invasive species. They take off and multiply rapidly. Predators dont know how to utilize them initially but they figure it out. Thr population plateaus then drops to a new normal with some peaks and valleys either way. To quote our state biologist "I know what the ceiling is, and am just trying to make the floor a little higher."