MADISON—Preliminary totals show turkey hunters registered 38,885 birds during the 2018 spring turkey hunting season in Wisconsin, a 10 percent decrease from the spring 2017 season.
Weather this spring played a significant role in the decreased harvest numbers. With much of the state covered in snow at the beginning of the season, we saw a steep decline in the number of turkeys registered during the Youth Hunt and Period A. The remaining time periods had similar harvest to last year, with a slight decline in Period F when record high temperatures were recorded throughout the state.
“Unfortunately, turkey hunters experienced less-than-ideal conditions during the Youth Hunt and first period,” said Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “We saw declines in hunter participation in all zones early in the season, so it appears many were deterred by late winter weather that impacted the state.”
A total of 138,544 harvest authorizations were awarded through the drawing and 74,237 were sold over the counter. Overall, there were 325 more harvest authorizations issued this season than in the 2017 spring season.
The 2018 spring season started on April 14 with the Youth Hunt. The regular season ran from April 18 to May 29 with six separate time periods. Having separate time periods allows for maximum hunter opportunities, with a minimum amount of interference while ensuring that harvest does not lead to population declines.
2018 fall turkey hunting
Starting in 2018, the fall turkey drawing has been waived. A fall turkey harvest authorization will be issued with every fall turkey or conservation patron license purchase. Hunters will choose a zone at the time of purchase for which their harvest authorization will be valid. Bonus harvest authorizations, formerly known as leftover tags, will be available for purchase in select zones starting Aug. 18 at 10 a.m.
The fall 2018 wild turkey season for Zones 1-5 is September 15 to January 6, 2019. For Zones 6 and 7, the season is September 15- November 16.
Be sure to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring the department’s upland wildlife ecologist Mark Witecha. The podcast covers everything from the history of wild turkeys in Wisconsin to current management and hunting opportunities. This episode and much more can be found on both iTunes (subscribe to the DNR channel to receive updates when new episodes are available) and YouTube.