Texas County places second in fall firearms turkey season

Texas County ranked second in the state during Missouri’s fall firearms turkey season.

Hunters in the county killed 95 of the 2,899 turkeys checked statewide during the Oct. 1-31 season. Greene County led the state with 100. Dent was third with 94.

Last year’s fall firearms turkey harvest total was 3,698.

Missouri Department of Conservation turkey biologist Jason Isabelle said this year’s low fall firearms turkey harvest total can be attributed to several factors, including a poor turkey hatch, a decline in hunter participation and above-average acorn production.

“As was the case last year, this year’s turkey hatch was exceptionally poor, so there were far fewer young birds for hunters to pursue this fall,” Isabelle said. “Young turkeys are typically the most easily lured into hunters’ calls, so poor production made for some challenging hunting this fall.”

The poor hatch wasn’t the only thing that contributed to this year’s low fall firearms turkey harvest. Isabelle noted that participation in the fall firearms turkey season has been declining in Missouri, as it has in a number of states.

“This year’s fall firearms turkey permit sales total of 10,243 was the lowest on record since the season started in 1978,” Isabelle said. “During our peak year in 1987, nearly 53,000 permits were purchased.”

Another factor that impacted this year’s fall turkey harvest was the good acorn crop throughout much of the state, which typically results in fewer turkeys being taken. Isabelle said that when acorns are abundant, turkeys don’t have to range far to locate food, and spend less time in open fields where they’re more visible to hunters.

For several years before 2016, production had been considerably better than the poor hatches that plagued the state’s turkey population in the late 2000s. However, 2017 marks the second year of poor turkey hatches in Missouri.

“Poor production the past couple years has certainly been a setback, but we’ve dealt with periods of poor production before,” Isabelle said. “Turkeys can make a fairly quick rebound with a couple years of good production. I’m hoping that the 2018 hatch will get us started back in the right direction.”

Fall archery turkey hunting continues through Nov. 10 and then resumes again from Nov. 22 through Jan. 15, 2018.

For Missouri fall firearms turkey harvest results by county and type of bird, log onto http://on.mo.gov/1jjz7Ew.

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