Hunters should expect a similar spring turkey season as 2016

Missouri turkey hunters can expect a good spring season overall according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). The spring turkey hunting season starts with a youth-only weekend April 8-9. The regular spring season runs April 17 through May 7.

Although four consecutive years of poor hatches caused Missouri’s turkey population to decline during the late 2000s, improvements in productivity have since resulted in a rebound in turkey numbers throughout much of the state.

“Since 2011, we’ve seen an increasing trend in the spring turkey harvest,” MDC Turkey Biologist Jason Isabelle said. “A great deal of what makes for a good spring turkey season depends on the hatch two years prior. Although the 2015 hatch was not as high as in 2014, it, along with carry-over from previous years, should result in a strong 2017 harvest.”

Isabelle does note that last year’s poor hatch will result in fewer jakes on the landscape.

“I think hunters will notice a reduction in the number of jakes they’re used to seeing,” he said. “However, because most hunters prefer to harvest adult gobblers, the effects of last year’s hatch won’t be fully realized until the 2018 spring season.”

For most of the state, Isabelle expects this year’s spring turkey harvest to be at or slightly below last year’s mark. Although this year’s harvest total isn’t expected to be as high as last year’s, there are still plenty of gobblers on the landscape to provide some good hunting this year.

MDC offers turkey hunting opportunities on more than 500 conservation areas and the state’s diverse landscape means turkey numbers often vary by region.

“Although the statewide trend has been an increase in turkey numbers in recent years, we often see varying trends at the regional-level, so hunters should be mindful of what’s going on in their part of the state,” said Isabelle.

Regional Forecast

Due to a poor hatch in 2015, this year’s turkey harvest in the Northeast and West Prairie regions (see map below) is expected to be down from one year ago.

“Both regions had very low poult-to-hen ratios during the summer brood survey a couple years ago, so I’d expect fewer 2-year-old gobblers this year in these regions,” Isabelle said.

Isabelle indicated he expects spring harvests in the Ozarks, Lindley Breaks, Union Breaks, Mississippi Lowlands, and Northwest regions (see map below) to be similar to last year’s.

“Production was generally better in these regions in 2015, so I wouldn’t expect them to deviate too much from last year’s mark,” he said.

Get More Information

Find detailed information on harvest limits, allowed hunting methods, hunter education requirements, permits, MDC hunting areas, tagging and checking procedures, regulations and more in MDC’s 2017 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available from MDC offices and nature centers, other places where permits are sold, and online at http://on.mo.gov/2mn9d8K. For more information about spring turkey hunting, visit MDC’s website at http://on.mo.gov/2mVaDnK.