Hunters register 3,971 birds during 2017 fall turkey hunt

MADISON – Hunters registered 3,971 birds during the fall 2017 wild turkey season, a decrease from 4,990 turkeys registered during the 2016 fall season.

The harvest success rate was 6.4 percent, compared to 7.3 percent in 2016. Success rate is calculated based on the number of harvest authorizations (formerly known as a tag or permit) sold and is not corrected for non-participation.

In total, 102,550 harvest authorizations were available within seven Turkey Management Zones in 2017, but only a 62,239 harvest authorizations were issued, down from 67,906 issued in 2016. Harvest authorization levels are determined by recent trends in harvest, hunter success and turkey reproduction, as well as hunter densities and field reports of turkey abundance.

“The fall turkey season provides a much different experience for turkey hunters than does the spring hunt, and we have a dedicated group of hunters that enjoy pursuing turkeys in the fall woods–in particular, those who hunt turkeys with dogs,” said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist.

The department first initiated a fall turkey season in 1989 after an increase and expansion of turkeys throughout the state. Since then, hunters have been able to pursue turkeys during both fall and spring seasons.

“Total fall permit sales have declined from the highs of the early 2000s, and fewer turkeys are being harvested during the fall season as a result,” said Witecha. “Turkey harvest totals reflect a number of factors, including turkey population size, weather conditions, and hunter participation and effort, and we have seen participation decline as hunters balance fall turkey hunting with many other hunting opportunities available that time of year.”

To learn more about Wisconsin’s wild turkeys, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “turkey.”