Midwest Region 2023 Turkey Hunting Forecast
“For the most part, turkey numbers and good hunting continue to thrive in America’s heartland
Bless the Midwest. In a time when turkey populations elsewhere seem to face never-ending challenges, this region — with a couple of exceptions — continues to provide quality hunting opportunities.
Moreover, hunters can find diversity here: big timber, sprawling ag country, endless prairie and river breaks, or combinations thereof. Is filling a tag guaranteed? Of course not. It’s turkey hunting. But your odds of success will be good, and the experience promises to be memorable.
Here’s a look at what Midwestern turkey hunters can expect during spring 2023.
Two consecutive years of good nesting success have Illinois biologists feeling optimistic about the upcoming turkey season.
“I’m not predicting a record-breaking harvest by any means, but I think we can expect to see a higher harvest total than the previous two years, which were well below average,” said Luke Garver, wild turkey project manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “Two straight years of very low poult-to-hen ratios in 2018 and 2019, followed by a 2020 spring harvest that was one of the highest in a decade, might have resulted in fewer birds on the landscape the past few seasons. Fingers are crossed for continued increases in nest success and, as always, for favorable spring weather.”
Northwestern Illinois saw an especially high jump in reproductive success, as indicated by Illinois’ Summer 2022 Brood Survey. Conversely, southern Illinois remains on a four-year skid for poult-to-hen ratios.”
“While the turkey population is still relatively high in that part of the state, bird numbers might not be what hunters have seen in the past,” Garver said
Parts of the Hoosier State have taken some hits the past decade in terms of turkey recruitment. However, biologists there say conditions have aligned to produce good news throughout the state.
“It should be a good year for the Indiana spring turkey harvest, with increased harvests in most regions of the state,” said Emily B. McCallen, biometrician with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Conducive warm and relative dry weather during the critical early brood period in June 2021, coupled with the 17-year Brood X cicada emergence, resulted in an exceedingly good production year in 2021. That means this spring, there should be more 2-year-old gobblers on the landscape and higher-than-normal success rates. We saw an increase in success rates in the fall 2022 harvest, and we expect that will continue into spring.”
McCallen said the Brood X emergence brought a much-needed boost in brood production to the southeastern and south-central portions of the state, which had experienced more than a decade of depressed recruitment. Those regions historically hold the greatest turkey densities.
Meanwhile, Thomas A. Despot, northwest public lands supervisor with the Indiana DNR, said 2022 turkey production appeared to be good in the northern part of the state.
“The early spring weather was cool and wet in April and May, but the weather turned warm and dry in June and July,” he said. “This corresponded with the main hatching and brood rearing time for wild turkeys in northern Indiana and provided very good weather conditions for brood survival. The turkey population in northern Indiana seems to have remained fairly stable over the past several years, and public and private lands have had good numbers of turkeys for the spring season.””
The full article can be found here.
Photo Credit: Original Author