Iowa Spring Turkey Hunting Numbers Decline

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The winter that wouldn't end is the likely culprit for a decline in the number of resident spring turkey hunters, and in the number of turkey licenses sold. Overall, nearly 52,500 spring turkey hunting licenses were sold to Iowans, down nearly 1,200 from 2007. Most of the decline in license sales occurred in the first season, April 14 – 17.

Hunters reported harvesting 9,643 turkeys, which was a decrease of 365 from 2007. Based on a follow up survey, only 3 out of every 4 turkeys harvested were reported, as required by Iowa law. The actual harvest was closer to 13,000, said Todd Gosselink, forest wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Hunter success was 20 percent, matching success in 2007. If the non-reported turkey harvest was included in the calculations, the success rate would jump to 32 percent.

Youth Season license sales declined for the first time since the special season began in 2005. There were 2,141 licenses issued for the April 11 – 13 season. Youth hunters had a 22 percent success rate.

Nonresidents purchased a record 2,258 licenses from 2,298 available and had a success rate of 40 percent. Nonresidents harvested 898 turkeys, which was similar to 2007.

Wind and rain during the youth and early turkey seasons likely played a hand in the decline in hunter numbers and license sales.

For more information, contact Todd Gosselink, forest wildlife research biologist for the Iowa DNR, at 641-774-2958.