Spring Turkey Harvest Up from Last Year

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Preliminary figures show that hunters registered 47,373 turkeys during Wisconsin’s 2004 spring wild turkey season. This is a 10 percent increase over the 2003 spring harvest of 42,970 birds. The statewide hunter success rate remained stable at 25 percent.

Hunters took advantage of an expanding turkey population and an increased number of turkey permits. A total of 185,369 permits were issued throughout the 43 turkey management units and 12 state parks open for the 2004 spring season.

Andrea Mezera, assistant Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologists, said zones 22 and 23 once again appeared to have produced the highest overall turkey harvests at 5,034 and 2,783 respectively. Final harvest figures will be published in the annual Wisconsin Big Game Hunting Summary, due out around March 2005.

More than 26,600 turkey hunters received second permits. Permit numbers are evenly distributed throughout the six time periods to provide a quality hunting experience. Interference rates and hunter satisfaction data are gathered from annual hunter surveys sent out to 10,000 hunters after the spring season.

There were three non-fatal hunting accidents reported during the spring season according to hunting safety officials.

“The three accidents were either self-inflicted (one) or cases of the hunters not positively identifying the target (two),” said Tim Lawhern, DNR hunter education administrator. “Details of these accidents are typical – the hunters were stalking what they thought was a turkey but shot another hunter.”

The fall 2004 wild turkey season will run from Oct. 9 through Nov. 7. Approximately 84,600 permits will be available. Applications cost $3 and are due by Aug. 10.

“Looking ahead to the fall hunt, it is difficult to predict fall hunting conditions until poult, or turkey young-of-the-year counts are completed in August,” said Mezera said. “Continually cool and wet weather generally is not favorable for young poults.”