Fall turkey hunt looks good

Lansing – According to state officials, Michigan’s wild turkey
population will provide great opportunities for those looking for
some turkey-calling excitement this fall.

“There are lots of turkeys out there in areas open to fall
hunting,” Al Stewart, the DNR’s upland game bird specialist, told
Michigan Outdoor News. “And there are many units that have leftover
licenses available.”

Michigan’s fall turkey hunt began as a way to provide additional
recreational opportunities and to help maintain and reduce turkey
populations in areas with an overabundance of birds, according to
Stewart. However, the hunt has been a bit of a tough sell to some
hunters.

Although Michigan’s first turkey season was held in the fall,
many hunters see it as a spring tradition now, he said. Part of the
problem, according to the biologist, is the mindset some hunters
have that turkeys can only be called in during the spring.

Not so, Stewart said. The fall hunt is a great time to call
turkeys.

Another problem is that the fall turkey season, Oct. 4-Nov. 14,
coincides with several other hunting and fishing opportunities.

“With the salmon running and ongoing grouse, woodcock, rabbit,
and archery (deer) season, many hunters have their plate full,”
Stewart said. “However, we still have licenses available for those
who want to try something new, but didn’t apply.”

For those who applied and did not receive their hunt choice,
leftover licenses will go on sale Sept. 11 beginning at 10 a.m.
Unsuccessful applicants get first crack at the leftover permits.
Licenses then go on sale for those who did not apply through the
lottery drawing, beginning Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. A list of the areas
with leftover tags is available on the DNR web site, www.michigan.gov/dnr, or by
calling a local DNR field office.

Although there are plenty of turkeys across the state, most of
the northern Lower Peninsula does not have a fall season this year.
The exception is Unit J, which includes Beaver Island and Emmet,
Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Antrim, and Otsego counties.

The southern part of the state is nearly all open to fall turkey
hunting and has 10 units open this year.

In the Upper Peninsula, one large unit in the south-central part
of the peninsula is open.

The U.P winter count this year was the highest on record,
according to Craig Albright, a DNR wildlife biologist in Escanaba.
Yet, the number of applicants was well below the quota set.

“We have a tremendous number of leftover licenses available,”
Albright said. “It doesn’t look like we will sell out.”

Out of the 8,500 licenses available in the U.P., approximately
7,679 leftover tags are available. The highest concentration of
birds there can be found in Delta, Dickenson, and Menominee
counties.

With turkey populations so high, conservation groups who feed
the turkeys during the winter are seeing their funds running
dry.

“This is meant to be a management hunt to keep the population at
sustainable levels,” Albright said.

Under current legislation, the DNR can only sell one license per
hunter. It may consider multiple tags per license next year,
Albright said.

Because mating season is in the spring, different tactics must
be used during the fall hunt.

One of these tactics is to find a flock, scatter them by running
at them, and then setting up and calling the birds back.

“They are curious birds and they come over to see who the new
turkey on the block is,” Stewart said.

Both male and female turkeys are legal targets during the fall
hunt.

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