Hunters checked 22,771 turkeys during the first week of Missouri’s spring turkey season, the smallest number in 10 years. The Missouri Department of Conservation predicts a harvest of approximately 50,000 turkeys for the three-week season.
Top harvest counties were Franklin, with 476 turkeys checked, and Callaway and Ste. Genevieve counties with 389 each. Texas County’s first week count was 368. The conservation department recorded two nonfatal, firearms-related turkey hunting accidents.
The number of birds checked on the opening day of the spring turkey season followed the same trend as the first-week harvest. Hunters checked 6,010 birds on the first Monday of the season this year, down 24 percent from 2006.
Jeff Beringer, the conservation department resource scientist in charge of managing the state’s wild turkey flock, attributed the dip in turkey harvest to below-average nesting success in recent years, and unusual weather preceding the season.
“Surveys in 2003 and 2004 showed low numbers of poults (young turkeys) compared to previous years,” said Beringer. “In 2005 we had the second-lowest poult numbers on record. That is especially bad for hunters this year, because two-year old males are the ones that gobble the most. Not hearing birds gobbling decreases the quality of the hunting experience and makes it harder to find birds.”