Hunters in Illinois harvest more than 15,700 birds during 2017 spring turkey season

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary statewide total of 15,719 wild turkeys during the 2017 spring turkey season, including the youth season.

The 2017 total compares with the statewide turkey harvest of 15,484 in 2016. The statewide preliminary total includes the record youth turkey season harvest of 1,541 birds, compared with youth season harvest of 1,045 turkeys in 2016.

Spring turkey hunting was open in 100 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The 2017 seasons were April 3-May 4 in the South Zone and April 10-May 11 in the North Zone. The youth spring turkey season was March 25-26 and April 1-2. This was the first year the youth turkey season was open for two weekends statewide, rather than one weekend for the South Zone and one for the North Zone.

Turkey hunters this spring took a preliminary total of 6,842 wild turkeys during all season segments in the South Zone, compared with 6,694 last year in the south. The North Zone preliminary harvest total this year was 8,877 wild turkeys, compared with 8,790 in the north in 2016.

“Weather always plays a big role in harvest numbers and 2017 was no different,” said Luke Garver, Illinois Department of Natural Resources wild turkey project manager. “For the first two-thirds of the season, harvest trends were well above average. The significant rain events we experienced across much of the state slowed harvest considerably.  Despite a rainy end to the spring season, this year marked the third consecutive season of an increased harvest total.  Additionally, we were encouraged to see the youth season being the success it was.”

The top counties for spring wild turkey harvest in the South Zone in 2017 were Jefferson (412), Jackson (359), Union (359), Randolph (349), and Pope (348). The top five North Zone counties for spring turkey harvest this year were Jo Daviess (610), Pike (404), Adams (395), Fulton (378), and Hancock (325).

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