Hunters registered 3,782 birds during the fall 2018 wild turkey season, very similar to the 3,971 turkeys registered during the 2017 fall season.
In total, 73,915 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2018 fall season, an increase of 7,099 from 2017. Of the 73,915 harvest authorizations issued, 70,420 were awarded with a fall turkey license and 3,495 were sold over the counter as bonus harvest authorizations.
The fall 2018 season marked an important change – rather than a draw, anyone with a fall turkey license and stamp was awarded one harvest authorization for the zone of their choice. In addition to the harvest authorization included with a fall turkey license, a total of 13,000 bonus harvest authorizations available for purchase in zones 1-4.
Although a higher number of harvest authorizations were issued, the number of birds registered declined compared to last year. This resulted in a harvest success rate of 5.1 percent, a decrease from 5.9 percent in 2017. Success rate is calculated based on the number of harvest authorizations sold and is not corrected for non-participation.
“We have seen a steady decline in the number of turkeys harvested in the fall over the past decade,” said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. “Recent reductions in harvest are largely due to a decline in hunter effort–the annual fall hunter survey shows that more and more hunters are pursuing turkeys secondary to other species.
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.
To learn more about wild turkey management in Wisconsin, be sure to check out an episode of the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring Mark Witecha. Podcasts are available on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher and PodBean.
For more general information regarding Wisconsin’s wild turkeys, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “turkey.”