DNR: Hunters take 17% more Wisconsin spring turkeys

MADISON — Turkey hunters killed nearly 17% more birds during Wisconsin's spring season than last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR released preliminary harvest totals Wednesday that show hunters registered 44,963 birds this spring, up from 38,576 last year. The 2020 youth season yielded 2,880 kills, up 47% from 1,953 in 2019.

Hunters killed 11,689 birds in southwestern Wisconsin’s Zone 1, the most kills in any of the state’s seven turkey management zones.

The department issued 224,452 permits, up 5% from 2019, with 132,037 awarded through a lottery and 92,415 sold over the counter.

DNR officials attributed the higher harvest totals to a warmer spring that was more conducive to hunting than last year, favorable brooding conditions in 2019 and late-standing crops across much of the state that helped sustain the turkey population.

The spring season started April 11 with the youth hunt. The regular season began April 15 and ran through May 26.