Mo turkey harvest strong in spite of weather

spectr17

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Turkey harvest strong in spite of weather

Widespread rain during the last two weeks of Missouri's spring turkey season kept this year's harvest out of the record book.Jim Low, MDC

5/17/02

JEFFERSON CITY -- The wind blew, and the rain flew, and turkey hunters shivered in their camouflage outfits. But when Missouri's spring turkey hunting season closed May 12, the harvest was only 5 percent short of a record.

The season got off to a good start with a record opening-day turkey harvest of 9,504. A cold, wet first weekend slowed the pace, causing the first week's harvest to fall short of last year's figure. Hunters made up lost ground the second week of the season, but continued rainy, windy weather and widespread flash flooding kept a lid on turkey hunting action. Statewide, hunters brought 53,932 turkeys to check stations during the three-week turkey season. That is 1,370 fewer than last year and 2,902 below the record of 56,841 set in 2000.

"What I find remarkable about this season is that hunters bagged as many birds as they did," said Wildlife Research Biologist Mike Hubbard, the Missouri Department of Conservation's turkey specialist. "After the first week, I predicted that we would have a harvest around 52,000 birds, and I stuck with that number after the second week."

Hubbard noted that although the harvest from Missouri's three-week spring turkey season isn't a record, if you add the 3,102 birds killed during this year's youth turkey hunt, the season harvest is second only to last year, when hunters bagged 57,832 gobblers.

"The fact that we killed that many turkeys under such tough conditions is quite a tribute to the health of the turkey flock statewide and to hunters' devotion to this sport. I couldn't be more pleased with the season, considering the circumstances."

Texas County led harvest totals with 1,216 birds checked. Laclede County came in second with 1,103, and Howell County placed third with 955. West-central Missouri led regional harvest totals with 8,742 birds checked, followed by the northeast with 8,158, northwest with 7,211, east-central with 6,307, central with 5,486, southwest with 5,157, Ozark with 5,143, southeast with 5,041, St. Louis with 1,350 and Kansas City with 1,337.

The Conservation Department recorded eight firearms-related hunting accidents during the 2002 spring turkey season, two fewer than last year. None of this year's accidents were fatal. The safest spring turkey season on record in Missouri was 2000, when the Conservation Department recorded only four accidents, none fatal. The worst season for safety purposes was 1986, when two people died and 29 were injured in spring turkey hunting accidents. The last fatal spring turkey hunting accident was in 1998.

"Getting the number of accidents into single digits is great progress," said Protection Programs Supervisor Bob Staton. "That figures out to one accident for every 15,600 hunters. We have made enormous strides in hunters' commitment to safety, but we won't be satisfied until we routinely have seasons with no injuries or deaths."

Hubbard said the cold rain and flooding won't necessarily reduce wild turkey reproduction this year. "These rains will cause a number of early-nesting turkey hens to lose their nests. However, it's still early enough in the season that birds that lose their nests will attempt to renest. Wet weather would have to continue for a few more weeks to influence overall nesting success. Let's hope the weather between now and the middle of June is going to be nice and sunny."

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I was in Missouri for the last 2 weeks and it was the rainiest, hailingest, lightningest, tornadoingest and floodingest season I can remember going back to nineteen hundred and sixty six. I hunt along the Mississippi River a lot and most of my turkey spots were under water. I swear I saw a turkey with flippers on doing a duck walk on a levee. Another turkey I saw trying to cross a muddy crop field had those huge Ronald McDonald mud shoes going on where ya have to stop every 3 steps and fling all the mud off, all the while trying not to fling a chunk up into your own face or mouth.

One morning it rained for hours and I chased an occasionally  gobbling tom over hill and dale trying to keep until he would take a break and I could setup. I waded a creek you could normally step over, sliding down slick mud soaked treetrunks like an drunk muskrat, to stay in the hunt only to have the tom gobble back across the creek 30 minutes later. Once on the other side of the creek again after another baptism a cold front blew in, the temp dropped and it started hailing. I sat down on the ridge along an unplanted field and was about to have a good cry when the darn turkey gobbled just off to my right. Of course I was back to the hunt only to have him walk off into private land leaving me staring sopping wet across a barbed wire fenceline. Since it was quiting time and I didn't have a dry piece of clothes on I retreated back to my truck like a drowned rat.

As I sat in the the truck wiping the fog upped winders every few minutes I thought it might break the next day and start to dry out. Nope, it rained again.

~Jesse
 



Passthru

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 heh,Jesse youll have to come hunt with me next year and ill get you outta the mud and into a bird that will talkRegular,just make it the first week! After that it is ussualy over.
 


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