It was a tough spring for turkey hunters.
Wisconsin officials announced Tuesday that hunters killed 37,804 turkeys in the recently concluded season, a drop of 11 percent from last year. Minnesota’s turkey harvest was down about 8 percent.
Unseasonably cold weather, including rain, snow and wind, contributed to the decline.
“It really was an amazing contrast, weather-wise, from 2012’s hunt,” Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said in a news release. “Last year, we were snow-free statewide by opening day, with winter flocks broken up and hens initiating nests. This year, spring didn’t arrive until mid-season, and hunters had to deal with some challenging conditions, especially in the northern zones where many hunters had to don snowshoes to get in the woods after a turkey.”
According to Walter, the poor weather likely reduced hunter effort and made harvesting a bird more challenging because gobblers were still tied to winter flocks of hens.
“Hunters simply won’t spend as much time in the woods in inclement weather. The persistent winter weather therefore presented a double obstacle for hunters, and is the major reason we saw a drop in harvest and success,” said Walter.
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The Department of Natural Resources will have field testing stations in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Morrison, Pope, Stearns, Swift and Todd counties.
Results mirror results in Minnesota, South Dakota.
Previously, the DNR said it would wait until an annual fall walleye survey was complete on Mille Lacs before determing whether winter walleye fishing could begin Dec. 1.
Deadline to apply is Sept. 24