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Indiana's spring turkey harvest best in 40 years

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

-- Indiana's 2010 spring turkey harvest was the highest it's been since spring turkey hunting began in 1970.

With estimated success rate of approximately 22 percent, hunters harvested 13,742 wild turkeys in 88 of the 92 counties, exceeding the previous high of 13,193 set in 2006 by 4 percent.  

"Reasons for the increased harvest reflect a combination of general turkey population growth around the state, especially in northern counties, and the continual increase in hunter numbers," said Steve Backs, wildlife biologist.

The majority of the birds were harvested in the early part of the season during the early morning hours.  

Juvenile and adult weights were slightly up compared to the mean weights of previous years. The proportion of juvenile turkeys in the harvest was 19 percent, with 54 percent being 2-year-olds, and 28 percent being 3-year-olds.  

Last year, hunters reported seeing fewer jakes than in other years. That trend continued this year.

"We have had five years of below-normal production (since the high year of 2004) due generally to above normal precipitation during the critical early brood period of late May through June," Backs said.

The top 10 counties were Harrison (607), Switzerland (508), Jefferson (451), Dearborn (426), Warrick (368), Franklin (366), Marshall (363), Steuben (363), Perry (355) and Clark (347). Last year, Switzerland County topped the hunter success list with 530 turkeys, followed by Harrison (511) and Jefferson (447). There were 30 counties with harvests of more than 200 birds this year.

The south-central and southeastern regions supported 49 percent of the harvest, followed by northern Indiana at 23 percent. West-central Indiana has shown a decline since 2008, when extensive flooding likely reduced production success.  

"Northern turkey populations are still generally in a growth phase following restoration in the 1990s," Backs said. "Older populations in the south have generally leveled off or stabilized at what is frequently referred to as population-maintenance production levels."

A total of 1,554 birds were taken during the youth-only weekend before the regular season. The 2010 youth harvest made up 11.3 percent of the total harvest and with a 59 percent increase over the 2009 youth season harvest.  

Hunters can view the full report by clicking here.

For more information, contact Kevin Hoffman by phone at (317) 234-5904 or by e-mail at khoffman@dnr.in.gov.

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