Turkey hunters set new autumn harvest record
St. Paul — With about a week remaining in the season, fall turkey hunters already had killed a record number of birds.
Through Monday, the harvest stood at 1,378 turkeys, compared with 730 at the same time last year. The previous record kill, which hunters achieved in 2010, was 1,353 birds.
The season runs through Sunday.
“This is very likely a reflection of the good reproduction we suspect occurred in the turkey population this spring and summer,” said Steve Merchant, acting DNR Wildlife Section chief. “It appears that reproduction for game birds in general was quite good.”
Following are harvest results for two of the state’s big-game species: moose and elk.
During the season that ran Sept. 29 through Oct. 14, moose hunters killed 45 bulls. There were 87 parties hunting, which equates to a 52 percent success rate.
Tom Rusch, DNR area wildlife manager in Tower, called it a “good season, overall.”
During the hunt, hunters encountered a little bit of everything – temperatures in the 70s, as well as below freezing; falling leaves and peak colors; and a snowstorm.
“We had summer, fall, and winter – all of it in one moose season,” Rusch said.
The moose season followed a survey earlier this year that showed the moose population in the northeastern part of the state had fallen to an estimated 4,230 animals, or less than half of the estimated 8,840 animals in 2006.
The number of licenses for the season was the lowest the DNR ever had given out, and the hunt was for bulls only. DNR officials maintain the hunt doesn’t hurt the state’s moose population.
On the other side of the state, hunters had success killing elk during the Sept. 15-23 season.
There were two either-sex tags available in the Grygla area. One party killed a 5-by-5 bull. The other saw and heard elk, but held out for a bull and didn’t kill one, said Joel Huener, assistant manager at the Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area.
There were two bulls-only licenses available in the new Kittson County Northeast Zone. The animals in that zone move back and forth between Minnesota and Manitoba. One party killed a 6-by-6 bull, while the other was unsuccessful, said Christine Reisz, acting DNR area wildlife manager in Karlstad.
In the Kittson Co. Central Zone, there were five antlerless and one either-sex licenses available. One hunter killed an 8-by-8 bull. Another party killed a male calf, while another killed an adult cow. A third hunter with an antlerless permit killed an antlered male, which was not legal, Reisz said.