April marks the beginning of another spring turkey hunt, and a strong year of turkey production in 2014 means hunters should look forward to a good season.
“We had a nice year of production in 2014,” said Scott Walter, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. “Though some parts of the state saw large rainfall events in June, July and August were excellent for brood rearing and survival, and our statewide surveys reported a 22 percent increase in the number of broods seen per observer hour, as well as an increase in brood size.”
Turkey populations rise or fall from one year to the next, largely in response to weather conditions during critical nesting and brood-rearing periods. According to Walter, we are likely still seeing the benefits of an outstanding year of production in 2012.
Despite severe weather conditions during the winter of 2013-14 and a late spring, many reports noted turkey broods with small chicks late in the brood observation period – an indication of successful late nesting or re-nesting activity.
Hunters harvested 41,815 turkeys during the 2014 spring season – this was a 10 percent increase from the 37,804 birds harvested in 2013. Spring hunter success rates in the past few years have ranged from 17 to 22 percent.
The 2015 spring turkey season will consist of six seven-day time periods. Each time period will begin on a Wednesday and run through the following Tuesday. In total, 237,768 permits were made available for this spring’s hunt, essentially the same number made available for the 2014 spring season. More than 134,000 permits were issued in the drawing for the spring 2015 season – this left just under 104,000 available for over-the-counter purchase. Leftover permits went on sale on a zone-per-day basis March 23, and will be available for purchase until they are sold out or the season ends. The 2015 season closes May 26.