Kentucky Spring Turkey Harvest Sets State Record

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Kentucky's spring turkey hunters set a new state record this year. Hunters telechecked 29,006 birds during the 23-day season, which ended May 10. This surpassed the previous record of 28,797 birds in 2006.

"Despite the bad weather, turkey hunters are dedicated sportsmen and sportswomen," said Karen Alexy, wildlife division director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "They still got out there and made this the best season ever."

Last summer, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife biologists recorded the highest number of poults, or turkey chicks, ever reported in the 25-year history of the department's annual brood survey. This record turkey reproduction provided plenty of birds for hunters.

"We had more birds on the ground than probably at any time in modern history," said Steven Dobey, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s turkey program coordinator. "Interest in turkey hunting continues to grow. That, combined with the record number of turkeys on the ground, resulted in a phenomenal season."

Turkeys should produce another strong crop this year. Since only bearded turkeys are legal for harvest during the spring season, female birds were essentially protected and can now build on last year's reproductive success.

"By early fall, we'll have a post-harvest estimate of what the population looks like," said Dobey. "I expect it to be great – those hens made it through the spring season and are nested now."

Additionally, birds hatched in 2008 will be adult two-year-olds by next year's spring turkey season. With a little help from nature, hunters should be in for another great harvest in 2010.