Missouri Still Ranks as One of the Best Turkey States in America
Bob McNally 06.05.17
Missouri is widely acclaimed for offering some of the best eastern wild turkey hunting in America, and this spring’s harvest totals attest to its hierarchy in big bird hunting spots.
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-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.
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 later in the season helped harvest numbers bounce back a bit.
State restoration efforts in past decades have taken the popular game bird from almost none in the 1950s to an estimated sustainable population of more than 300,000 birds.
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.