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Spring Turkey Hunting Outlook Good in Much of Missouri

Turkey (Credit: Dave Williss; Flickr)
Turkey (Credit: Dave Williss; Flickr)

A biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation says turkey hunters have reason to be optimistic about the spring turkey season in the state.

The season runs April 21st through May 11th with the youth season April 12th and 13th.

In a news release issued this week, resource specialist Jason Isabelle said observers throughout the state reported strong turkey reproduction in 2011 and 2012.  That means hunters can expect to see high numbers of two and three-year-old gobblers this year.

"Hunters throughout much of the state should be in for a good spring turkey season.  There should be quite a bit of gobbling and good numbers of adult birds for hunters to pursue," he said.

But he says passing up opportunities to hunt one-year-old gobblers or jakes will result in more adult turkeys to hunt in the future.

"Hunting is a substantial source of mortality for male turkeys.  Most jakes survive to be two-year-old gobblers.  Of course, jakes are legal to harvest in Missouri and they do make excellent table fare, but for those hunters interested in having more adult gobblers in their hunting area in the future, passing up opportunities to shoot jakes is one way to achieve that," he said.

According to Isabelle, production has been good in the eastern Ozarks for the last three years.  But turkey reproduction in parts of northwest, west-central and southwest Missouri has not shown the improvements that it has elsewhere.  He expects a good turkey harvest in counties such as Cedar, St. Clair, Hickory, Polk, Christian and Webster.

While Isabelle says predicting any given year's turkey harvest is difficult because of the weather's influence on turkey behavior and hunter effort, he predicts this year’s statewide spring turkey harvest to be close to last year’s combined total of about 46,000 for the youth and regular seasons.