MADISON, Wis. – Preliminary totals show Wisconsin turkey hunters registered 44,963 birds during the 2020 spring turkey hunting season, nearly a 17% increase from the 38,576 birds registered in the 2019 season.
The 2020 youth season resulted in a total of 2,880 birds registered, up 47% from 1,953 in 2019. Harvest increased significantly across all zones and time periods compared to 2019 levels.
Although snow was persistent this winter in the northern half of the state, there were few long-lasting cold snaps, favorable spring brooding conditions in 2019 and late standing crops in many areas of the state, leading to a healthy and robust turkey population entering the spring season. Weather conditions were optimal for almost every period of the 2020 turkey season.
“The 2020 spring turkey season represents the highest harvest since 2016 and the second-highest harvest since 2010,” said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. “Good weather and enhanced opportunity for hunters this season likely contributed some to increased harvest, but ultimately we continue to have one of the healthiest turkey flocks in the nation here in Wisconsin.”
A total of 224,452 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2020 spring turkey season, a 5% increase from 2019, with 132,037 harvest authorizations awarded through the drawing and 92,415 sold over the counter.
Zone 1 produced the highest overall harvest at 11,689 birds, followed by Zones 3 and 2. Hunters registered 11,264 birds in Zone 3 and 10,934 birds in Zone 2. Overall, the statewide success rate was 20% compared to 18.1% in 2019.
The 2020 spring season started April 11 with the Youth Hunt. The regular season began April 15 and ran through May 26 with six separate time periods. Having separate periods allows for maximum hunter opportunities with a minimum amount of interference while ensuring a sustainable harvest.
Biologists in Wisconsin closely monitor harvest, hunter interference rates, hunter satisfaction and other information to track turkey populations through time to maintain a successful, enjoyable and sustainable spring turkey hunt.