April 24, 2008

Weather Holds Down 2008 Youth Season Turkey Harvest

Young hunters posted the second-lowest harvest in the eight-year history of Missouris two-day Youth Turkey Hunting Season. The states top wild-turkey manager attributed the poor showing to dismal weather.

Hunters age 15 and younger registered 2,898 turkeys on Telecheck, the Missouri Department of Conservations automated game-checking system, during the season April 12 and 13. That is down 615, or 17.5 percent, from last year. The only smaller youth turkey harvest occurred in 2001, the first year for the youth hunt. They killed 2,530 turkeys that year.

The top three counties during the youth season were Franklin with 92, Ste. Genevieve with 64 and Osage with 57 turkeys checked. Franklin County also led 2007 youth harvest totals with 94 turkeys checked. For county-by-county harvest totals from the youth season, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/hunt/turkey/turksum/.

Scotland County hunters checked in just 33 birds over the two days, down from 38 last year. Schuyler and Knox counties saw the biggest declines. Schuyler County hunters harvested just seven birds this year, down 17 from last year while Knox Countys totals dropped 20 birds to 22 in 2008. Clark County numbers rose from 18 in 2007 to 23 this season.

Male turkeys gobble most on warm, clear mornings with little wind. Exactly the opposite conditions prevailed during the two-day youth turkey season. Conservation Department Resource Scientist Tom Dailey said this almost certainly contributed to this years reduced youth turkey harvest.

The 2007 youth hunt was held unusually early to avoid a conflict with the Easter weekend, said Dailey. That turned out to be very good for young hunters, since the weather turned extremely cold the first week in April last year. Instead of struggling with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, they had daytime highs in the 60s and 70s. This year they had to contend with wind, rain, sleet and snow. It wasnt very pretty. Considering the weather, I would say this years youth season harvest was surprisingly good.

Dailey said one factor that might have helped young hunters was the first-time extension of hunting hours until sunset. Previously, hunting was allowed only from 30 minutes before sunrise until 1 p.m. The shorter hours still apply to the regular spring turkey season.

Past years youth-season turkey harvests were: 2007, 3,513; 2006, 3,694; 2005, 3,894; 2004, 3,258; 2003, 3,660; 2002, 3,102; 2001, 2,530.

Dailey noted that outdoors men and women have ample opportunities to mentor new hunters during the regular turkey season, thanks to Missouris new Apprentice Hunter Authorization. The $10 authorization allows residents or nonresidents 16 or older who have not completed hunter education training to buy hunting permits and hunt under the supervision of licensed hunters who are 21 or older. The authorization is available for two years.

Regular spring turkey season runs from April 21 through May 11.

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