MN: Weather hampers Season A turkey hunters
St. Paul – There's nothing you can do about the weather.
A-season turkey hunters found that out. While they killed 2,173 birds during the first five-day season – April 13-17 – the total was well below last year's 3,200-bird kill.
Weather conditions during the first season last year were just about perfect for turkey hunting. This year, it was cold and windy.
"At this point, I would attribute (the lower harvest) to weather conditions," said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader. "The first week of the turkey season was not great for turkey hunting."
Penning notes this year's first-season harvest is more in line with the kill in previous seasons. In 2009, for example, first-season hunters killed just more than 2,200 turkeys.
The weather for the second season – April 18-22 – wasn't shaping up to be much better.
"We're supposed to be getting 3 to 4 inches of snow tonight here in the Twin Cities," Penning said Tuesday morning. He noted the weather system carrying the snow was tracking across the Dakotas and southern half of Minnesota, so "it could put a damper on the largest part of our turkey range."
Based on what he's seen so far, Penning believes the lower harvest is related to the weather, and doesn't indicate that turkeys had a hard time making it through the winter.
"At this point, I would not attribute the lower harvest to winter weather issues," he said. "If we continue to see that trend, that would give us an indication (that winter was problematic). But the A season can be very iffy. One time-period worth of data doesn't really tell us much at this point."
Hunters last year killed 13,467 turkeys, which is the most they have ever killed in the state.
The total harvest can recover in later time periods when a delayed spring means birds aren't as turned on as usual during the early seasons.
"I'm not ready to predict that that's what's going to happen this year, though," Penning said.
While there likely are some parts of the state where birds are in full reproductive mode, and Penning has heard from people who say they saw displaying toms, "I haven't had the volume of calls in that regard that I typically do this time of year," he said.
That could be an indication that everything is a little delayed this spring, Penning said.
The third turkey season runs April 23-27. Those after that go from April 28-May 2; May 3-7; May 8-12; May 13-19; and May 20-26.