Turkey harvest down from 2009 season

Milladore, Wis. – The DNR Turkey Management Committee met June
16 at the Mead Wildlife Area to review preliminary harvest figures
for the spring season and learned that hunters registered 47,709
turkeys – down 9.6 percent from the second highest total of 52,581
birds registered in 2009.

The record turkey harvest occurred in 2008, when 52,880 birds
were registered in Wisconsin.

Success rates were the highest during the first time period, at
32 percent success, and decreased with each succeeding season, with
23 percent in time period two, then 21 percent, 16 percent, 15
percent, and finally 14 percent in season six.

Sharon Fandel, acting DNR upland wildlife ecologist, said the
decrease in harvest is probably due to a wet spring in 2008 and the
cool summer of 2009 that resulted in below-average brood production
that year.

Kevin Morgan, DNR wildlife biologist in Barron, said that in the
nine-county Lake Superior area, registrations were down 13 percent
from last year, with a reduction of about 20 percent in Polk,
Barron, Rusk, and Taylor counties.

“Hunters reported not seeing as many birds as last year,” Morgan
said. “However, we did not receive any reports of people finding
dead birds during the winter, even though there was a crust on the
snow from Christmas until the end of February. I looked at some of
the registered birds and they appeared healthy and the same size as

Morgan said the success rate in the northwest, Zone 6, was still
20 percent, which is a good success rate for that area.

Dave Matheys, DNR wildlife biologist in Viroqua, said the
weather the first two periods was favorable for hunters, and the
fact that fewer birds were harvested overall could be a result of
warmer weather that hit during the later time periods and caused
hunters to not hunt as long, or to go fishing instead of

“Some hunters reported seeing a lot of jakes, while other
hunters said they did not see any jakes,” Matheys said. “The heavy
rainfall during June of 2008 probably hampered brood survival that
year, which is reflected in the harvest this year.”

Tom Isaac, DNR wildlife biologist in Hartford, said that in his
opinion, “It was a good season, although the bird numbers were
down. We are seeing lots of birds now and I think we’ll see an
increase in bird numbers.”

Conservation Congress Turkey Study Committee Chairman Mike
Rogers, who serves on the DNR committee, said he saw more jakes
this year in Sauk County. He thinks a lot more 2-year-old gobblers
will be available next spring in his area.

The 2010 spring harvest included 38,026 adult gobblers (or 80
percent of the harvest), 9,024 jakes, 467 hens (bearded hens are
legal to shoot), and 122 birds for which the sex was

There were 226,204 permits available, and the DNR received
157,163 applications for permits by the December deadline. The DNR
initially issued 154,856 permits.

Leftover permits went on sale March 22 and resulted in the sale
of 62,541 more permits. The highest number of permits bought by one
person was 14.

During the Learn-to-Hunt and youth hunt activities, beginning
hunters registered 3,552 birds (397 during the Learn-to-Hunt
programs and 3,155 during the youth hunt weekend).

There was only one accident reported during the spring season.
That incident occurred in Dane County when, according to DNR
reports, a hunter shot at a turkey coming at him and the victim, 70
yards away who scared the turkey toward the shooter, was hit with
one pellet below the eye.

The Turkey Management Committee decided to keep final permit
levels the same as last fall for the 2010 fall hunting season. The
committee also took a cut at preliminary permit levels for the 2011
spring season and, at least for the time being, is looking at
keeping permit numbers for 2011 the same as 2010.

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