April 5, 2007

Young Hunters Bag 3,500 Turkeys During Youth Season

Youngsters between the ages of six and 15 got a head start on the 2007 spring turkey season last weekend. The early start saw youth across the state check-in 3,513 turkeys on March 31st and April 1st.

More than two-thirds of the total consisted of adult gobblers (3,374). Sixty-two bearded hens were checked in along with 1,077 juvenile gobblers.

Scotland County youth hunters bagged 38 birds total, 34 adult gobblers and four juveniles.

Several neighboring counties reported similar results.

Schuyler County youths checked in 24 birds while Knox County had a total of 42 turkeys checked by youth hunters. Adair County had 31 birds harvested while Clark County had just 18.

Franklin County led the state with a total of 94 turkeys harvested. Callaway County was next with 84 followed by Sainte Genevieve with 68.

Youth permit holders that did not find success last weekend may still harvest one male turkey during the regular spring season, which runs April 16th through May 6th.

Hunters between the age of 11-15, who are hunter safety certified, could have purchased a regular spring turkey hunting tag. That would have allowed them to bag one turkey during the youth season. If that was not the case, these youngsters will be just like the rest of the hunters that will begin April 16th with the option to take two birds, but no more than one during the first week of the season. A youth hunter that was successful last weekend, will not be able to take the second bird until the second week of the regular season.

The youth season fell much earlier on the calendar than in years past. The change was made by MDC, which instituted new scheduling guidelines in an effort to strike a balance between the biology of turkey reproduction and hunters’ desires for an earlier season, especially in southern Missouri. The spring turkey season now begins on the third Monday in April instead of the Monday closest to April 21. This means that the average opening date will be three days earlier than in the past.

This change should not have a measurable impact on turkey reproduction or harvest, and continuous incubation by hens should still coincide with the new opening date.

The youth season was much earlier this year as a result of the formula change and to avoid a conflict with Easter weekend. Instead of opening nine days before the regular season as usual, this year’s youth hunt opened on the Saturday before the Easter weekend, which was the last weekend in March. The youth season will take place in March only twice during the next 20 years.

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