Spring Turkey

Hunters will have to work a little harder to find their turkey this season.

Missouri spring turkey hunting begins on April 10 with youth season.

Youth season runs for two days before giving way to hunting season for all from April 19 through May 9. The Missouri Department of Conservation said hunters can expect a younger crop of turkey after a low production in 2019 but significant improvements in 2020.

Buchanan County agent Dave Carlisle said the numbers can vary depending on weather and location.

“We’re always going to be up and down,” Carlisle said. “The things that really affect the numbers are temperature and weather. When these birds are laying and their eggs are hatching, they’re very susceptible to a cold June rain. If we get one of those cold rains when these poults don’t have their full feathers, it can be devastating to the population of the birds.”

Carlisle said he believes the numbers for Buchanan County for 2021 will be high as they have been for the last few years.

“If you talk to hunters, they’ll tell you that people in the eastern part of Andrew County are not seeing the numbers that they saw four years ago,” Carlisle said. “It’s all relative to the perception of the individuals out here.”

Though agents believe the numbers will rebound this season, the conservation department said in a recent press release that hunters may have to work a little harder for their turkey this season. Turkey biologist Reina Tyl said this may mean observing where turkeys are spending most of their time after flying down from their roost.

Carlisle said one of the most important things for him is the safety of hunters. Public land hunting brings an added danger with the combination of turkey and mushroom hunting.

“There are always things that a person should be cognizant of,” Carlisle said. “The golden rule is to go all camo, stay away from red, black, blue and white because those are the colors of your turkey.”

It’s also suggested hunters wear orange when walking on public land for anything. Carlisle said the goal is for hunting to be as safe as possible.

Turkey regulations allow hunters to take one turkey during the first week from April 19 to 25. After that point, hunters may take two during the second and third weeks, but they cannot take two on the same day.

“I think overall, the population is looking pretty doggone good,” Carlisle said. “Now whether you can get a bird to cooperate to kill it, as a hunter that’s on you.”

Anthony Crane can be reached at anthonytcrane@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @crane_anthony

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