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Despite a rainy cold closing weekend across much of state, Iowa’s wild turkey hunters reported harvesting more than 14,800 birds through the mandatory registration system, an increase of nearly 3,000 versus the 2022 harvest.
Iowa’s spring turkey seasons began April 7 with the youth season and ended on May 14. Hunters purchased nearly 54,500 spring turkey tags, an increase of 2,000 licenses from 2022.
Turkey production has been good across most of the state the past two years and these two-year-old birds were likely a good portion of the harvest, said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“The two-year-old birds are the most likely to gobble and the most likely to move,” he said. “When we combine birds willing to move, pretty good weather during the season and the great passion our turkey hunters have for the resource, we get a harvest for the record books.”
While the hunting season may be done for 2023, Iowans can help the DNR with its annual turkey production estimates by reporting all the turkeys seen during the months of July and August. This annual survey is designed to predict the overall production of wild turkeys that will be available for the 2024 season.
The DNR will have a link to the survey on its website before it begins on July 1, where Iowans seeing wild turkeys are asked to provide the date and county in which the turkey(s) was seen, if it was an adult female or adult male (males have beards on their breast), and whether there are young poults (baby turkeys) present.
Annual production surveys conducted by the DNR are an important component of the species management plans, which includes providing hunting opportunities. Anyone seeing turkeys is encouraged to participate in this online survey.