Fall turkey harvest numbers, permit sales increased in 2020

Courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

WISCONSIN – More turkeys were harvested in 2020 than the previous year, according to new data released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Hunters registered 4,600 birds during the fall 2020 wild turkey season, a 21% increase compared to the 3,792 turkeys registered during the 2019 fall season.

In total, 81,710 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2020 fall season, an increase of 6,935 from 2019. Of the 81,710 harvest authorizations issued, 76,748 were awarded with a fall turkey license, and 4,962 were sold over-the-counter as bonus harvest authorizations. This fall, the department issued 271 more fall bonus harvest authorizations than in 2019.

Since 2018, the fall turkey drawing has been waived. Anyone with a fall turkey license and stamp was awarded one harvest authorization for the zone of their choice. In addition to the harvest authorization included with a fall turkey license, a total of 14,000 bonus harvest authorizations were available for purchase in zones 1-4.

The harvest success rate in 2020 was 5.6%, very close to the harvest success rate of 5.1% in 2019. The success rate is calculated based on the number of harvest authorizations sold and is not corrected for non-participation.

“In 2020, we saw a large increase in hunting license sales, likely due to COVID-19 and an increased public interest in outdoor recreation,” said Alaina Gerrits, DNR Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist. “Fall turkey hunting license sales were no exception, and hopefully, this sparked interest and recruited new hunters who will participate for years to come. We are fortunate to have such a robust and healthy turkey population that can support both a spring and fall harvest season in Wisconsin.”

The department first initiated a fall turkey season in 1989 after an increase and expansion of turkeys throughout the state. Since then, hunters have been able to pursue turkeys during both the fall and spring seasons.

More information about Wisconsin’s wild turkey hunting and management is available at www.dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/turkey.

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