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Midwest Region 2024 Turkey Hunting Forecast

Midwest Region 2024 Turkey Hunting Forecast

Posted 2024-02-27  by  Brian Lovett

Turkeys are faring better here than in other parts of the country, and it shows in hunter success. Best, 2024 looks to be a good year.

Midwestern turkeys just seem to keep chugging along, producing quality hunting year after year. With a few exceptions, that trend should continue in Spring 2024.

Moreover, you can also find plenty of variety in the region, with opportunities to chase birds in big timber, sprawling ag country, wide-open prairies, or hills and valleys that would make a mountain goat wince.

Here’s a look at what Midwestern turkey hunters can expect this spring.

Image: MW_eastern_2

The Midwest turkey season is shaping up quite nicely. Image by Thangs1


After tough times a few years ago, Illinois turkeys have made quite a comeback, promising good things for Spring 2024.

“We’ve continued to see higher reproductive success each year following an all-time low in 2019,” said Luke Garver, wild turkey project manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “We often see increases in harvest two years following a good hatch year. If that trend continues, spring 2024 and 2025 should be good seasons as long as hunting weather is somewhat favorable.”

Garver said turkeys are doing well throughout the state, but northwestern Illinois looks especially good, with increasing trends in reproduction, harvest, and hunter success.

During Spring 2023, Illinois hunters took 16,123 turkeys.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Illinois)


Much like Illinois, Indiana is bouncing back from some down years and looks promising for 2024.

“We had a record harvest in 2023, so while we’ll likely be down from that number, we should still see great harvest opportunities,” said Geriann Albers, furbearer and turkey program leader for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “We had good fall harvest numbers, our poult counts were right on our long-term average over the last two years, and Indiana’s population overall seems to have come out of the slump it was in a few years ago.”

Albers said counties in the northwestern part of the state — including Lake, Porter, Newton and LaPorte — have seen turkey population growth.

“Some of those counties are quite urban, but if you can find land to hunt, there are a lot of birds there,” she said. “We’re also seeing a lot of turkeys in Owen, Monroe, and Brown counties, right at the northern edge of the southern hardwoods. A few of our central counties are always the toughest for finding turkeys, so if you’re in Howard, Tipton, Clinton, Boone, Hamilton, or Madison counties, you’ll likely have to head toward the Wabash or Mississinewa rivers to get on some birds.”

Indiana hunters shot 16,649 turkeys in Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Indiana)


Known more for big deer, Iowa is a sleeper turkey hunting titan. That shouldn’t change in 2024.

“Iowa had a record-breaking harvest [more than 14,000 birds] in 2023,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “With another good brood survey in the summer of 2023, an above-average harvest is expected again.”

Coffey said Iowa’s diverse landscape provides hunters with many scenarios. Northeastern Iowa is a perennial powerhouse, and Coffey described the north-central part of the state as being “underrepresented.”

“First-time hunters should look at the Iowa DNR Outdoor Atlas,” he said. “This shows high-quality aerial imagery of the Iowa landscape. It also highlights available public hunting opportunities. Unique opportunities involve the ‘mountains’ of western Iowa along the Loess hills and the beautiful driftless areas of northeastern Iowa. Chances of getting a tag in these areas are better than in the traditional southern parts of the state.”

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Iowa)


Once a perennial must-visit state for traveling turkey hunters, Kansas has experienced population declines in recent years. However, Sunflower State birds are holding tough, and biologists expect better opportunities this spring.

“Turkey hunting should be fair to good in Kansas in 2024,” said Kent A. Fricke, small-game coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. “Production increased slightly in 2023 compared to 2022, and populations are beginning to recover from record-low production in 2019 due to extensive precipitation and flooding in the state in 2019.”

Fricke said the northeastern and north-central portions of the state continue to support the highest turkey numbers and also provide abundant opportunities for public hunting access. Western Kansas has experienced relatively low production since 2015, and declining hunter success has reflected those trends.

Hunters took 14,989 birds in Kansas during Spring 2023. Fricke reminded hunters that the statewide bag limit has been reduced to one bird. Nonresident permit quotas have been set for each turkey hunt unit, and hunters must apply for a tag from January 9 to February 9. Resident permits remain available over the counter.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Kansas)


Hunters in the Great Lakes State can expect another solid spring season.

“Habitat conditions and population trends remain good, [and] populations remain stable,” said Adam Bump, upland game bird specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division. “Overall seasons combined, we have been averaging around 40%-plus success rates in Michigan. I expect that to continue into 2024.”

Bump said turkey numbers are probably highest in the southern third of the state, but hunters find good success throughout Michigan.

“More state forest land exists in the northern two-thirds of Michigan, and if hunters are looking for a big-woods hunting experience, they can find it in northern parts of the state and still have good to excellent chances to have an opportunity to harvest a bird,” he said.

2023 harvest numbers weren’t available at the time of this writing, but Michigan hunters took 32,461 turkeys in 2022.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Michigan)


“In general, things look great for spring turkey season throughout Minnesota this upcoming hunting season,” said Nate Huck, resident game bird specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Minnesota had great production in 2023 with the relatively dry spring, so there will be lots of jakes around. The population has been doing well, and there are plenty of 2-plus-year-old birds around as well.”

Huck said central Minnesota is generally the brightest spot in the state, as bird numbers there continue to increase.

“We have heard that areas in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern Minnesota have come down from the recent highs, but those areas were bolstered by the good reproduction we had in 2023,” he said.

Gopher State hunters took 13,659 turkeys during Spring 2023, which was the second-highest total ever recorded.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Minnesota)


Once the undisputed king of Eastern turkey hunting, Missouri has experienced ups and downs the past few seasons. But it seems poised for a solid Spring 2024.

“Statewide production in 2022 was better than the five-year average, and reports are coming in of large flocks this winter,” said Nick Oakley, wild turkey and ruffed grouse biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Oakley said areas of northeastern Missouri had better-than-average production in 2022, along with areas along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The western half of Missouri had a down year production-wise.

Show-Me State hunters took 44,543 turkeys during Spring 2023. Oakley reminded hunters that a recent regulation change now allows turkey hunting after 1 p.m. on private land. Public land hunting still closes at 1 p.m.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Missouri)


Turkey populations in Nebraska are down about 50% from their peak in 2010, and the state has enacted several regulation changes to combat the decline. Still, Luke Meduna, big-game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said numbers have been stable the past four years.

Turkey population trends have been fairly stable across the state, Meduna said, with some local variations. Hunters took 12,302 birds in Spring 2023.

“Please be aware of the many changes that have occurred the last couple of years,” he said. “Nebraska has mandatory harvest reporting now, and birds must be telechecked after the harvest. It can be done via the internet or phone. See your permit for details. We’ve also reduced to two permits per hunter, and only one bird may be harvested per day.

The state also caps nonresident permits at 10,000 per spring. They sold out in late January.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Nebraska)

North Dakota

Spring turkey hunting is only open to residents in North Dakota. However, nonresidents can still get in on the fun by hunting Indian reservations, including the massive Standing Rock Reservation on the border of North and South Dakota.

Rodney A. Gross Jr., upland game biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said Spring 2024 prospects look good in western North Dakota but poor in the eastern part of the state.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in North Dakota)


After a brief rough patch, turkeys in Ohio are on the upswing, and hunters should reap the benefits in 2024.

“Poult surveys showed above-average numbers in 2021 and 2022, suggesting hunters will encounter strong classes of 2-year-old and 3-year-old gobblers in 2024,” said Mark Wiley, forest game bird biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. “After a tough couple of years, spring harvest rates were elevated in Ohio in 2023. I expect spring harvest rates in 2024 to be on par with last spring.”

Wiley said 2022 poult numbers were highest in the northern half of the state. If historic trends hold true, northern counties might see a larger bump in 2-year-old gobbler numbers than southern counties.

Ohio hunters took 15,673 bearded turkeys during Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Ohio)

South Dakota

“We had good reproduction in many areas last year and a good outlook in many spring hunting units,” said Chad Lehman, senior wildlife biologist with South Dakota, Game, Fish and Park. “However, we are still waiting on winter severity and how that may impact wild turkey populations.”

Lehman said overall 2023 reproduction appeared to be good in most units.

“But we are looking forward to seeing what comes forth in the Black Hills unit, as that looks promising,” he said. “And for many of the West River units, we also had good reproduction.”

During Spring 2023, South Dakota hunters took 7,499 male turkeys.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in South Dakota)


Suddenly a darling for traveling hunters, Wisconsin will likely have another good season in Spring 2024.

“In the spring and summer of 2023, Wisconsin experienced mild and dry conditions, creating favorable nesting and brood rearing conditions,” said Alissa Kakatsch, assistant game bird specialist with the Department of Natural Resources. “With a good nesting season a year prior, I anticipate another successful hunting season similar to the past recent seasons.”

Turkey populations look good throughout the entire state, Kakatsch said. In Spring 2023, Wisconsin hunters took 42,439 turkeys.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Wisconsin)

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