Wisconsin spring turkey harvest highest in last six years
Madison — Spring turkey hunters killed 45,496 birds this year, according to preliminary information compiled by the DNR. Upland wildlife ecologist Mark Witecha said that is an 11 percent increase from the spring 2015 harvest and the highest harvest in the last six years.
A mild winter and stable weather throughout most of the spring turkey season were major factors in that success.
Time Period A had the largest harvest at 11,115. The harvest then decreased each time period, with 9,408 in Period B, 7,583 time Period C, 6,304 Period D, 5,193 Period E and 3,103 Period F. A total of 196 turkeys were killed during learn-to-hunt events and 2,594 were killed during the youth hunt.
The overall hunter success rate was 21 percent. Period A had the highest success rate at 28 percent. The success rate decreased to 23 percent in Period B and 19 percent in Period C. The success rate during the last three time periods was stable with 16 percent in periods D and E and 15 percent in period F.
Zone 1 had the highest kill at 13,862, followed by Zone 2 at 11,083, Zone 3 at 10,348. Zone 4 at 6,698, Zone 5 at 2,071, Zone 6 at 813 and Zone 7 at 510. Fort McCoy had 111 birds registered.
Adult gobblers were the bulk of the harvest with 37,750 registered. That comprised 83 percent of the total. Jakes were next with a harvest of 7,339 and 406 bearded hens were registered. One kill was recorded as unknown.
An interesting anomaly in the kill statistic shows that zones 1 and 3 had the highest harvest through the first three time periods. Zone 1 was tops in the fourth season, but Zone 2 came in second. For the final two time periods Zone 2 had the highest kill total in the state.
Witecha attributed that to the number of hunters in Zone 2 that includes southeast Wisconsin. Leftover tags were available for Zone 2 during the last two time periods, but they sold out quickly.
Zones 1 and 3 had many leftover tags and those available for the last two time periods were readily available. In the days before the last time period Zone 1 still had more than 10,000 tags still available.
Witecha theorized that hunters in zones 1 and 3 were able to get their fill of turkey hunting in the earlier time periods due to the availability of tags, but hunters in Zone 2 may have been more motivated during the late time periods because no extra tags were available for the earlier time periods.