Missouri Turkey Season Ends With Lower Harvest

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Hunters checked 10,890 turkeys during the second week of Missouri's spring turkey season, trailing the number of birds taken during the same period last year by 14 percent.

The second-week harvest brought the number of turkeys taken during the first two weeks of the season to 32,607. That is 7 percent fewer than last year.

Before the season, Missouri Department of Conservation Resource Scientist Tom Dailey predicted the spring turkey harvest would be down approximately 6,000, or 13 percent, from last year's figure. He based that prediction on exceptionally poor turkey reproduction in the past two years. Dailey said cool, rainy weather might have played a role in holding down the number of birds taken in the second week of this year's season, but reduced turkey numbers remained the primary factor, in his opinion.

"We had a pretty strong harvest the first week of the season, considering how many fewer birds we think were out there," said Dailey. "During the second week, with a lot of the two-year-old gobblers gone, hunting got tougher."

Dailey said widespread rain during the second week didn’t help hunters, but on the other hand it probably would not have been a serious obstacle if the turkey population had been what it was a few years ago.

"Hunters are going to have to work hard and get good breaks from the weather to top the 40,000-bird harvest I originally predicted," said Dailey, "The last week can be tough even under normal circumstances."

Dailey noted that hunters are finding more birds in some parts of the state than in others. Wild turkeys in western Missouri seem to have weathered the past two years' unfavorable nesting conditions better than many other regions. On the other hand, northern Missouri seems to have been harder hit than most. Even within regions, however, hunters report big differences in turkey numbers and gobbling activity from one locale to another.

"Many turkey hunters are finding a lot of birds and easily harvested two," said Dailey. "Even where turkey numbers are down many hunters are finding enough to keep them busy all season."

Top harvest counties during the first two weeks of the season were Franklin, with 728, Texas, with 662, and St. Clair, with 553.