Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that turkey hunters checked 39,239 birds during Missouri’s 2017 regular spring turkey season April 17 through May 7. Top harvest counties were Franklin with 932 birds checked, Texas with 843, and Callaway with 697. Young turkey hunters harvested 4,100 birds during the 2017 spring youth season, April 8-9, bringing the overall 2017 spring turkey harvest to 43,339.
Scotland County hunters checked in 274 adult gobblers, 35 jakes and five bearded hens for a harvest total of 314. Schuyler County hunters bagged 215 birds while Knox County checked in 271 turkeys and Clark County hunters harvested 318 turkeys.
The 2016 overall spring turkey harvest was 48,374 birds with 4,167 harvested during the youth weekend and 44,207 during the regular spring season.
“Given that we haven’t had good hatches the past couple years, and the less-than-ideal weather during a considerable portion of this year’s season, the drop in harvest compared to last year was not unexpected,” MDC Turkey Biologist Jason Isabelle said.
He added that the number of birds harvested this spring wasn’t too far behind last year’s harvest total going into the second weekend of spring turkey season, but the heavy rains that blanketed much of the state shortly thereafter caused the harvest to drop rapidly.
Isabelle noted favorable weather over this past weekend helped harvest numbers bounce back a bit.
The 2017 spring turkey season included two non-fatal hunting incidents. One involved a shooter who mistook another hunter for a turkey and the other was a self-inflicted shooting injury.
Missouri offers some of the best turkey hunting in the nation. MDC restoration efforts in past decades have taken this popular game bird from almost being wiped out in the state by the 1950s to an estimated sustainable population of more than 300,000 birds today. Missouri turkey hunters spend more than $125 million each year on related travel, food, lodging, and hunting equipment, which helps local businesses and the economy.