River Currents

by Free Speech on April 13, 2009

Lodi, WI~

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

Lodi, WI-4/13/09

The Spring Turkey Hunting Soon Opens and the Spring Mentored and Youth Hunts
by Gary Engberg
©2009 Gary Engberg Outdoors

Soon, it will be the time for the Wisconsin Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season to open on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. The spring season by all indications should be another good one for Wisconsin hunters, who set another record last spring with a harvest of 52,855 turkeys. Last spring’s harvest was great despite a winter of record snowfall and cold temperatures. The spring of 2008 also was cold and wet which was far from ideal for nesting and turkey recruitment. The winter of 2009 was another tough one for turkeys and all wildlife with more snow and cold. Turkeys are showing that they are an extremely hardy bird that can survive in the worst winters of Wisconsin.

Scott Hull, a Department of Natural Resources Upland Wildlife Ecologist, said, “From the information that we’ve gathered during annual surveys, the wild turkey population generally continues to be a healthy and in good numbers despite the harsh winter and spring conditions of 2007-2008.” The early results from the 10-week brood survey shows a 12% decrease in the number of broods seen when compared to 2007. But, the 2008 average is still well above the long-term mean.

This spring, 154,000 spring turkey permits were issued in the preference drawing and another 70,900 leftover permits went on sale March 23. The leftover permits went on sale on a zone-per-day basis and have sold well. The total number of turkey permits made available number over 225,000 permits which are up slightly from the 213,000 permits made available in 2008. As of April 3, 2009 there still were thousands of left over permits in both zones 1 and 3 for the 5th (E) and 6th (F) time periods. These can be good times, depending on weather; because tom’s can be looking for more hens to breed and will come to one’s calling. The resident cost is $10.00 and the non-resident fee is $15.00 per permit.

Hunters now have more flexibility to move around to other areas in pursuit of the wild turkey. This is the first spring under the new turkey zone structure where the number of hunting zones has been lowered to just seven. Ecologist Hull also noted that while the overall turkey numbers are good and stable, but hunters may find zones that have an increased population while others may have slight decreases. This is much like deer herd numbers in Wisconsin which can vary from zone to zone.

The hunter success rate in Wisconsin for turkey hunters is about 25% and if the weather cooperates similar numbers should be reached this spring. The 2009 spring turkey season opens April 15 and consists of six, five-day time periods that run thru May 24, 2009. Be sure to have a valid spring turkey license, a turkey stamp, and a permit for the zone where you hunt!

This past weekend, April 4-5, the Black Earth Creek Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held their Mentor Youth Hunt in the Cross Plains and Black Earth area. The local chapter did a great job in organizing and setting up this weekend of turkey hunting for today’s youth.

The Mentor Hunt was sponsored by the NWTF, the local chapter, and followed the guidelines that the Wisconsin DNR had set-up. There was a considerable amount of planning and “leg work” to have this successful event. The NWTF outing allows youth and adults who have never hunted turkeys before or even applied for a permit to hunt this past weekend as long as they were at least 10 years old and accompanied by a mentor. It was not necessary to have passed a Hunter Safety Course. The nice thing about this event is that it allows youths to get into the woods sooner to hunt and helps introduce children to the outdoors at an earlier age. The hunt is also open to older individuals who have never hunted turkeys and would like to learn. There was one male about 45 years old who joined the hunt and I’ve heard of people in their 60’s hunting for the first time. The hunting community is losing a large number of “baby boomers” who are becoming too old to hunt, are losing their hunting partners, and access to huntable land is becoming more difficult unless hunters own their hunting land.  Children have to be introduced to the outdoors at an early age if they are going to hunt, fish, and take part in the many outdoor activities that are available to them for their entire lives. There are so many other activities that are available for children like computers, inter-active games, and such that if the youth aren’t introduced early in their lives to the outdoors than mostly likely they never will find the joy, beauty, and camaraderie of an outdoor lifestyle. I’m not saying that children shouldn’t be computer savvy, but there most be time for all of these activities and not just indoor ones. The National Wild Turkey Federation and the local Black Earth Creek Longbeards Chapter should be thanked for their concern for today’s youth and beginning hunters.

The local event drew 34 young hunters and mentors from as far away as Platteville plus surrounding communities like Lodi, Black Earth, Cross Plains, and Mazomanie. The hunters managed to bag ten turkeys (at the last count I got) in the windy and not so nice weather this past Saturday and Sunday. The largest tom shot was 27 ½ pounds and an 18 pound bearded hen was also harvested.  On Saturday, the hunters and their mentors met at the Iron Horse Park in Mazomanie for lunch and pictures. The smiles and joy that I saw in all the hunters’ faces is why events like this are done. I think the mentors enjoyed having the youths in the woods with them as much as the children did. This is a win -win situation for all involved. The first-time hunters get into the woods and learn turkey hunting skills and woodmanship while the mentors get to pass on their skills and help introduce more children into the outdoors and the many things it has to offer as a healthy alternative. Good job Longbeards!

Mentors, hunters, and volunteers from the Black Earth Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Mentors, hunters, and volunteers from the Black Earth Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

This coming weekend, April 11and 12, is the third annual Spring Youth Turkey Hunt in Wisconsin sponsored by the Wisconsin DNR. This hunt is designed to give youth hunters, ages 12-15, which have successfully completed a hunter safety program or course, an opportunity to hunt turkeys while learning valuable hunting experience.

Here are the rules; the hunt is open to both residents and non-residents from 12-15 who possess a hunter education certificate, a spring turkey license, a turkey stamp, and a valid carcass tag for the spring 2009 season. The youths are allowed to hunt on both April 11and 12, regardless of what time period their permit was issued for. But, they may only hunt in the Turkey Management Zone that their permit is for and harvest only one tom turkey or bearded hen in this two-day hunt. If the youth was unsuccessful during the Youth Hunt, they may use the unused permit during the time period and in the zone which the carcass tag was originally issued for. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older. The adult may not have more than 2 hunters with them and all spring rules and regulations apply.

Thanks to all involved and for those participating this coming weekend in the Youth Hunt good luck and be safe! Send those pictures and stories to me at gengberg@garyengbergoutdoors.com and always visit the website at www.garyengbergoutdoors.com.

Contact: Wisconsin DNR, Sharon Fandel, Assistant Upland Ecologist, Sharon.fandel@wisconsin.gov .

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