River Currents

by Free Speech on April 9, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
by Gary Engberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

The Spring Turkey Season is Just Around the Corner

A nice wild tom turkey

The 2010 Wisconsin spring turkey season opens April 14th and runs through May 23rd. The season is broken down into 6 separate time periods (A, B, C, D, E, and F) of 5 days with each period opening on a Wednesday and closing on Sundays. Hunters were required to apply for their permits by December 10th of the previous year and hunters were notified by January for the spring hunt with a postcard. Hunters should have received their permits, but it is possible to still check at the Online Purchasing Center (Online Licensing Center) or by calling 1-888-936-7463.

The state DNR allocated 225,729 permits for this spring turkey hunt and 162,679 permits were issued to applicants. The “leftover” permits went on sale by zones starting March 22 for Zone 1 and continuing to March 27 when all leftover permits for any zone went on sale. As of April 5, 2010, there were some permits still available in Zone 1 with 5,392 permits still left for time period E and 9,798 permits available for period F. Zone 3 also had 5,205 permits left for period E and 8,595 permits for period F. There still were 918 permits left in zone 4 in period F. The permits for state parks are gone with just a handful available for the disabled. These numbers change daily, so be sure to check if you didn’t receive a permit or want another one. The permits are $10.00 for residents and $15.00 for non-residents. Remember that spring and fall permits are the same, but some areas like state parks are not open in the fall. You must also purchase your turkey hunting license and stamp at the time you get your permit. So to hunt turkeys this spring in Wisconsin, you need a permit for the zone that you’re hunting, a spring turkey license, and a turkey stamp.

The turkey stamp has been a requirement since 1995 and the $750,000 that the stamp brings in annually has contributed to the development, management, conservation, restoration, and maintenance of the wild turkey population. The introduction of the wild turkey into Wisconsin in 1976 (in a trade with Missouri for ruffed grouse) has been one of the greatest wildlife projects not only in Wisconsin, but in the United States. The turkey population continues to grow and increase its range in the Badger State. Turkeys have benefited from great hunter and land-owner support, good survival, and high quality habitat. The first year (1983) that Wisconsin had a spring turkey season there was 182 turkeys’ harvested and 1200 permits were issued. Last year, there were 52,581 turkeys harvested with a success ratio of 24.1% and 225,414 permits available.

Turkey hunters should have been out doing some valuable scouting on and near the land where they plan to hunt. I’ve been driving the rural and back roads glassing the open fields and areas with my Vortex binoculars for turkeys. Despite the snowfall that we have had the last three winters, turkeys have proved that they can withstand the cold and snow of a Wisconsin winter. I’m seeing flocks of turkeys grouped together, but in the not so distant future the turkeys will be dispersing over the countryside as the weather warms and the breeding urge “kicks” into high gear. If you see turkeys in an area now, there is a good chance that they will still be in that area when the season opens on April 14th. If you’ve drawn a permit for an area where you haven’t hunted before, stop and ask farmers for permission to hunt their land. If you present yourself well, you’ll be surprised at the number of farmers that will give you permission to hunt their property. Plus, many of the counties that have good turkey hunting also have sizeable tracts of public hunting grounds that also have good turkey populations. Don’t expect to hunt a hundred yards from your truck, you’ll have to get out and do some scouting in hard to reach spots that will entail some walking. Look for areas where turkeys are feeding, dusting, resting, and roosting. Try to make some calls and see if you get any responses. Go to the roosting locations and try to put the “birds to bed” before dark at night. Then, you’ll know where the turkeys are roosting and you can be ready for their fly-down in the morning.

Wild turkey eggs in a nest

Zone 1 in the southwest part of Wisconsin is one of the best areas for turkeys. This is the area where turkeys were first let go in the state because of its great turkey habitat. Vernon, Crawford, Grant, and Richland counties are some of the best locations in the state because they contain great turkey habitat. The hilly and wooded area contains everything that turkeys need to survive and prosper even in the Wisconsin winters. The wooded areas are mostly oak trees and other hardwoods that provide the mast crop (acorns) that turkeys thrive on throughout the year. The wooded hillsides give the birds good roosting locations out of the wind and cold. There also are agricultural fields mixed in with the wood lots that give turkeys waste and unharvested grain which can provide valuable food during critical times of the year. Many of these hillsides face the sun, so turkeys can often forage on these areas because they are free of snow.

Besides doing scouting, make sure to pattern your shotgun or shoot your bow if that’s how you plan to hunt. Other important things to do include; having some good camouflage clothing, a couple of decoys (at least one), and practice the calls that you plan to use while hunting. There are many companies that make good calls but I suggest; Quaker Boy, Primos, and Hunters Specialties. There are now calls made that sound great and are simple to use, so don’t be intimidated if you’re calling is not the best. Practice your calling whether you use a mouth or a manual call. Renting or buying a few videos’ or CD’s can improve your set-up, calling, and strategy. This is also a good time to attend seminars and watch television shows from professionals that want to do nothing but pass on some valuable information and tips to you.

The spring weather is has a lot to do with your spring hunting. Some springs’ the first few time periods look good and some years the last two periods can be good if it’s a late spring and there are hens that haven’t been bred. This spring, there are still permits available for zone 1 which is a great hunting area and like I said, you never know which time period is the best. The way that the weather has been recently, the first few periods could be the best this spring.

Do your scouting, check out the location where you plan to hunt, and read over the Spring 2010 Wisconsin Wild Turkey Regulations. Now, you should be ready when that gobbler comes into view and your sights! The Wisconsin Youth Hunt is April 10 and 11, 2010. Last year, was also the beginning of the Mentored Hunting Program where youth’s age 10 years thru 15 years can participate in the Mentored Hunt without first taking a hunter safety course. This is a great way to get youths and non-hunters involved in hunting and the outdoors. If you have any questions you may go to www.dnr.wi.gov.com for any additional information or go to my website at www.garyengbergoutdoors.com

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