Wisconsin is divided into 7 turkey management units. Units 1,3, and 4 are covered in this post. According to a consensus of retired turkey biologists and dedicated hunters who are year round turkey observers Wisconsin has one of the largest turkey populations in the nation numbering in excess of 500,000+. In spite of a severe winter across the
northern third of Wisconsin the turkeys seem to have survived intact. There are some localized reports of dead turkeys being found and these may have started a perception of a higher than average die off. Every winter results in the death of some individual turkeys due to disease or for whatever reason entering the winter in a weakened state. In actuality Vic the turkey dog and I have not found any evidence of massive turkey die off nor have any of my fellow turkey hunting buddies.
2014 Spring Turkey Forecast for Wisconsin Turkey Management Unit 1, 3 & south unit 4
Turkey hunters should expect to have solid turkey numbers. The 2012 spring recruitment was excellent due to near perfect spring nesting conditions. 2012 Fall hunters regularly encountered large numbers of jakes of the year. There is no reason to think many of these birds died off making them 2 year olds for spring 2014 hunt. Also consider the spring 2013 weather was horrible keeping hunters on the sidelines staring out their windows in disbelieve of all the May snow. 2013 gobbler harvest was down 30%. Most of these toms survived adding above normal 3 and 4 year old gobblers to the total 2014 spring population.
Bad news here is spring 2013 did not have good recruitment. 2013 Fall hunters encountered fewer birds of the year.
2014 Forecast summary for Wisconsin Spring Turkey Units 1, 3 and 4 –
2014 Wisconsin spring turkey hunters will find more 2-4 year old gobblers and fewer jakes than in past spring turkey hunts. At the right times 2 year gobblers are the easiest
turkeys to call in, sometimes referred to as the bread and butter of spring turkey hunting. With more of those2 year old turkeys available hunter success rates should increase significantly over spring 2013. Perhaps there will be fewer hunters afield due to the perception of hard winter effects on turkeys. Considering the suppressive effect on hunter numbers due to the misguided WDNR reduction in unit 4 permits. All of the negative news stories could take a toll on hunter attitudes and suppress their efforts. For those hunters that do not let that negative narrative discourage them and go out hunting will find a spring woods with more mature gobblers than ever before.
At this time judging by the slow sale of OTC permits and the lackluster conversion of drawn permits into turkey license purchases; Wisconsin’s spring 2014 turkey hunt will see a higher population of gobblers with fewer hunters out chasing them. What’s not to like?
The above forecast is based on my extensive 2014 field observations along with other hunters who have been putting on miles scouting turkeys. All of us get out of your trucks to hike miles of turkey habitat, glassing distant ridges and fields while taking notes of our observations. I digest all this “data” and come up with my gut instinct based on decades of turkey hunting and observations.
Feel free to get back to me with reports of your hunts and observation. Above all have fun and good hunting.