Turkey hunting harvest to increase this 2016 spring season
COLUMBIA – Spring turkey season opened Monday and the Missouri Department of Conservation expects this season’s harvest to be better than last year’s.
Resource scientist with the MDC Jason Isabelle said this is part of a trend that started in 2010.
“Although poor turkey production caused the spring turkey harvest to decline in Missouri during the late 2000s, several years of improved production have resulted in an increasing spring harvest trend during the last five years,” Isabelle said.
Isabelle said the decline in the late 2000s was due to wet weather during the nesting period, leading to a cycle of poor production from 2007-2010.
“A lot of the success in any given spring turkey season depends a lot on the type of hatch you had two years ago,” Isabelle said. “If you have a good hatch in one year, you can expect a pretty good season a couple years later."
2014 had a good hatch resulting in many two-year-old turkeys which are legal to hunt. These turkeys, coupled with carry-over from past years provide for many opportunities this spring.
“We estimate we have about 320,000 turkeys in our spring population and we typically have about 150,000 spring turkey hunters in Missouri,” Isabelle said.
Isabelle said Missouri generally has the highest turkey harvest in the nation, but he doesn’t expect any future harvest to surpass the record set in 2004.
2004 resulted in a harvest of over 60,000 wild turkeys. 2015’s harvest had 48,442 turkeys.
Isabelle said he expects turkey harvests to increase in the near future but predicts harvests in the next few years to fluctuate depending primarily on the success of the hatch two years prior.