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Wisconsin spring turkey season opens April 11

From Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- State wildlife officials are encouraging experienced hunters to consider taking a youth out for the April 7 and 8 statewide spring turkey youth hunt that precedes the April 11 opening of the spring season.

"Turkey populations should have come through the relatively mild 2011-12 winter in good shape," according to Scott Walter, upland game biologist. “As long as the critical nesting and early brood-rearing season remains dry and warm, populations can be expected to approach naturally occurring population limits imposed by habitat and predators, all good news for turkey hunters."

Wisconsin has seen record breaking spring weather, but biologists say the early warm weather won’t have much effect on turkeys.

“Spring turkey seasons are set so that toms can breed many of the hens in a given zone before the opening date for that zone,” said Walter. “This timing limits accidental harvest of hens but the toms are still active and coming in to hunters’ calls and decoys.

“This shouldn’t change since breeding activity is influenced by daylight and not so much by temperatures. Breeding and breeding behavior occurs about the same time every year. What could impact hunters is the amount of foliage in the woods. From what I’ve seen, leaf development is running three weeks or more ahead. The landscape during the first hunting period will look like third period on opening day.”

More than 233,500 permits were made available for this spring’s hunt, a slight increase from the number offered a year ago. More than 137,500 of those permits were issued in the preference drawing for the spring 2012 season, leaving 90,000 tags available for sale. Remaining permits went on sale March 19.

For current listings of leftover spring turkey permits, check online at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/cs/springturkey/index.html.

Hunting periods have been extended to seven days each. This evens out weather effects and offers a little more opportunity for time in the woods, Walter said.

The six 7-day 2012 spring turkey hunting periods start on April 11 and end May 22.

Self-registration is now in place for the spring season as well. Hunters no longer have to present their bird at a registration station. They must register the kill but they can do it by telephone (888)486-8947 from a touchtone phone or online at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/register.html.

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