Fall Wild Turkey Season Opens Oct. 9
While results of brood surveys indicate there was a slight decrease in turkey production in Wisconsin this summer, hunters preparing for the Oct. 9 fall turkey season opener should still be able expect a great season of turkey hunting, according to Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials.
“Wisconsin’s overall turkey population continues to expand and now extends well into the northern part of the state,” according to Andrea Mezera, assistant DNR upland wildlife ecologist. “Expansion is occurring in part due to statewide mild winters, available habitat, and expanded habitat development and improvement, much of which has been completed with revenue from the sale of the turkey stamps.”
There were 78,900 permits available for the 30-day 2004 fall season that runs through Nov. 7. This is an increase in about 150 permits over the 2003 fall permit levels, which resulted in 12,466 birds being harvested for a 15.9 percent success rate.
Successful fall applicants should receive their permit sometime during the last two weeks of September. A total of 90,839 applicants applied for fall turkey permits this year, down slightly from 91,082 applicants in 2003. There were more than 76,600 hunters who received a single permit, and approximately 2,200 who received two permits. Drawings are held to issue the permits for units that have more applicants than permits available, with preference given first to landowners in the zone, second to Wisconsin residents, and third to non-residents.
“Since most turkey hunting occurs on private land, it is important for hunters to keep landowner relationships a high priority,” Mezera said. “Landowners in Wisconsin are usually willing to allow hunters to use their land as long as they ask politely for permission to do so.”
Fall turkey hunters need to be aware of special blaze orange clothing requirements in effect for ALL hunters when firearm deer seasons are occurring. All hunters hunting within a Zone T or Earn-a-Buck Deer Management Areas are required to wear 50 percent blaze orange during the antlerless only deer season Oct. 28-31. Hunters statewide are required to wear blaze orange during the youth firearm deer hunt on Saturday, Oct. 30. Hunters within the CWD – Herd Reduction Zone must also meet the blaze orange requirements during the Oct. 28 – 31 firearm season. Additionally, hunters within the special Chronic Wasting Disease- Disease Eradication Zone Deer Management Units (DMU) are required to wear 50 percent blaze orange starting Oct. 28 through the end of the turkey season. Turkey hunters should refer to the 2004 Deer Hunting Regulations for a complete list of all DMUs and the season type that applies to that unit.
Tim Lawhern, DNR hunting safety administrator, notes there are special safety concerns that hunters need to pay special attention to when turkey hunting.
“Primarily, they need to be aware of other hunters in the field during this time, both turkey hunters and those pursuing other game,” Lawhern says. “Turkey hunters should not stalk a turkey. A turkey hunter who tries stalking a calling turkey is often actually stalking another hunter. Turkey hunters who are wearing camouflage should let others know of their whereabouts by shouting out to them.”
Mezera says that during the fall turkeys spend more than 90 percent of the daylight hours in hardwood habitats. Both brood flocks and adult male flocks make extensive use of areas dominated by oak and hickory. Turkey hunters should monitor the acorn crop in the area they hunt, as the success or failure of acorns will determine where turkeys will be feeding. In years of poor acorn production, turkeys spend proportionately more time in cornfields.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrea Mezera (608) 261-8458, Eric Lobner (608) 267-7861 or for hunting safety Tim Lawhern (608) 266-1317