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Wisconsin turkey season opens April 14; Youth hunt April 10-11

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Wisconsin’s  two-day spring youth hunt initiated in 2007, occurs the weekend before the regular season opens.  This year’s youth hunt occurs April 10-11 statewide, and the 2010 regular spring turkey season starts April 14 and consists of six, five-day time periods that end May 23.

The Youth Hunt allows close one-on-one mentoring of future hunters in a relaxed atmosphere without competition for hunting spots from regular season hunters.  The new Mentored Hunting Program that took effect last fall allows youth hunters aged 10 and 11, as well as youth ages 12 through 15 to participate in the 2010 youth turkey hunt.

Under the Mentored Hunting Program, youth ages 10 through 15 may hunt during the two-day youth hunt without first having completed hunter education, so long as they do so with a qualified adult mentor and follow the rules. Youth ages 12-15 who have already completed hunter education may hunt during the youth hunt while accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. Each youth must have a valid spring 2010 turkey harvest permit, license and stamp.

Youth ages 10 through 15 are allowed to hunt on April 10 and 11 in the Turkey Management Zone their permit is valid for, regardless of the time period their permit is issued for, and may harvest only one male or bearded turkey during the two-day hunt.

A youth who does not successfully harvest a turkey during the two day youth hunt may use the unfilled permit during the time period and in the zone for which the permit was issued. There is no special application procedure for the youth hunt, but young hunters must either apply through the drawing for a tag or purchase a left over tag.

All other spring turkey hunting regulations apply. More information on the spring turkey youth hunt is available at   http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/hunt/turkey/youthhunt.htm .  Information on the Mentored Hunting Program can be found at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/hunt/mentor.htm .

More than 225,700 permits were made available for this spring’s hunt, a slight increase from 225,414 permits offered for the 2009 season. More than 149,000 permits were issued in the preference drawing for the spring 2010 spring season, which left 76,636 tags available for sale on a zone-per-day basis beginning March 22.

As of March 31, there were still significant numbers of permits available for the last two hunting periods for zones 1 and 3, with fewer remaining for the last period in zones 4 and 5. All other periods were sold out in all other zones. Remaining permits can be purchased until sold out or the season ends. View current spring turkey permit availability at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/cs/springturkey/.

This marks the second spring turkey season under the new seven-zone consolidation, which first started during the 2008 fall turkey season. For the 2010 spring turkey season, a total of seven zones, 15 state parks and Fort McCoy will be open for hunting.  State wildlife biologists say turkey hunters can once again look forward to good year of turkey hunting.

“From the information gathered during annual surveys, the wild turkey population continues to be healthy and in good numbers,” notes Sharon Fandel, assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist. “While the results of the 2009 10-week brood survey indicate a decrease of 11 percent in number of broods observed compared to 2008, brood size remained the same compared to 2008. The number or broods observed in 2009, however, was still well above the statewide long-term mean.”

Hunters harvested 52,581 turkeys in 2009, just 300 shy of the record harvest set in 2008. Spring season success rates over the past few years have been in the 23-25 percent range.

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