Special Report: Wisconsin Spring Turkey Hunting Harvest Numbers Drop

Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

Special Report: Wisconsin Spring Turkey Hunting Harvest Numbers Drop

Posted 2018-07-24T05:07:00Z

Learn the Reason Why

This report on the recent Wisconsin spring turkey season comes directly to us from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

In short, the turkey kill for the recent 2018 campaign is down 10 percent from spring 2017. Weather, particularly snow, played a factor early, while record high temperatures weighed in at the end. Hunter participation, or the lack of it, is likely cause for the drop in kill numbers, officials speculate.

Read on for the full report.

© Olstad Media photo

Preliminary totals show turkey hunters registered 38,885 birds during the 2018 spring turkey hunting season in Wisconsin, a 10 percent decrease from the spring 2017 season.

Weather this spring played a significant role in the decreased harvest numbers. With much of the state covered in snow at the beginning of the season, we saw a steep decline in the number of turkeys registered during the Youth Hunt and Period A. The remaining time periods had similar harvest to last year, with a slight decline in Period F when record high temperatures were recorded throughout the state.

"Unfortunately, turkey hunters experienced less-than-ideal conditions during the Youth Hunt and first period," said Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We saw declines in hunter participation in all zones early in the season, so it appears many were deterred by late winter weather that impacted the state."

A total of 138,544 harvest authorizations were awarded through the drawing and 74,237 were sold over the counter. Overall, there were 325 more harvest authorizations issued this season than in the 2017 spring season.

Zone 1 produced the highest overall turkey harvest at 11,235 birds, followed by Zones 2 and 3, where hunters registered 9,471 and 8,699 turkeys respectively. Overall, the statewide success rate was 18.3 percent, compared to 20.4 percent in 2017.

The 2018 spring season started on April 14 with the Youth Hunt. The regular season ran from April 18 to May 29 with six separate time periods. Having separate time periods allows for maximum hunter opportunities, with a minimum amount of interference while ensuring that harvest does not lead to population declines. Biologists in Wisconsin closely monitor harvest, hunter interference rates, and hunter satisfaction along with other information to track turkey populations through time, to maintain a successful and enjoyable spring turkey hunt, and are always vigilant that harvests be sustainable.

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Realtree.com's Steve Hickoff has hunted wild turkeys all across the United States and Mexico.