Indiana Spring Turkey Harvest Sets State Record

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Hoosier hunters took a record number of wild turkeys during the state’s 37th annual hunt, April 26-May 14.

According to a preliminary report done by DNR wildlife research biologist Steven E. Backs, hunters harvested a record 13,193 wild turkeys in the 88 Indiana counties open to hunting the birds. The record number represents an 18 percent increase over the total of 11,159 wild turkeys harvested during the spring 2005 season.

Reasons for the 18 percent increase in the harvest include high brood production during summer 2004 and continued increases in both the turkey population and number of turkey hunters, according to Backs. The estimated hunter success rate was 26 percent for the 51,000 hunters Backs estimated to be afield.

"These impressive harvest numbers illustrate the great success of our wild turkey re-introduction project," said Kyle Hupfer, DNR director. "It’s exciting that Indiana is able to offer this kind of success to those who love to hunt wild turkeys in the spring when not long ago, we weren’t able to have a season because of the low population."

Juvenile gobblers (1-year-old birds, commonly called "jakes") made up 14 percent of the harvest, considerably lower than the 25 percent average of the previous 10 years. Adults (2 years or older) made up 86 percent of this year’s harvest, with the proportion of 2-year-old gobblers (67 percent), the highest in 37 years of Indiana spring wild turkey hunting.

The abnormally low juvenile and high adult proportions in the age structure of the harvest reflect the contrasting record high and low brood production during the respective 2004 and ‘05 summers. The average weight of juvenile gobblers taken was 14.5 pounds. Adult birds averaged 21.0 pounds.

Counties with the most turkeys taken overall included Switzerland (589), Dearborn (489), Perry (470), Jefferson (461), Parke (444), Orange (440) and Harrison (431).

Preliminary research notes such as this are issued periodically to provide a quick source of information on wildlife surveys and investigations, and various wildlife programs prior to more formal reports. Any information provided is subject to further analysis. The final report will be available in early fall. Backs said he does not anticipate significant changes in the numbers.