The following 2016 Wisconsin spring turkey hunt forecast or if you prefer “prediction” is based on observations reports from my network of year-round turkey hunters. Not only do we hunt spring, summer, fall and winter; During the offseason, we explore all 7 of Wisconsin’s turkey units noting habitat condition, flock composition, and numbers. We get out from behind the windshield to hike and glass the areas.
Admittedly this preview is subject to a lot my perception based on the field reports, experiences and years of turkey hunting. Before the 2014 Wisconsin spring turkey hunt, I wrote a forecast based on my hunter network field reports. At that time nearly everyone, including the current WDNR Wildlife managers were predicting a horrible spring hunt, it was supposed to be so bad they cut tags by 25%; this was the first time in state history the number of available turkey tags slashed. I stuck my neck out as a contrarian with a forecast of an above average hunt. Wisconsin’s spring turkey harvest was the second highest in the nation.
2016 Wisconsin turkey habitat is about as full of turkeys as it can get. No one “counts” turkeys in Wisconsin so it’s left to a variety of opinions. I think a reasonable estimate of statewide turkey numbers is around 600,000 birds perhaps approaching 650,000; this makes Wisconsin the number one turkey state in the nation based on population.
Wisconsin appears to be at carrying capacity statewide and is some southern areas turkeys may be over their carrying capacity. Wisconsin has experienced back to back mild winters followed by excellent springtime nesting conditions making excellent recruitment.. 2015 fall turkey hunters found high numbers of bird groups with diverse age structures.
2016 Spring Turkey Forecast for Wisconsin Turkey Management Unit 1, 3 & 4
In particular, these units have abundant turkey populations. With the exception of northern unit 4, turkeys numbers may be over carrying capacity. Carrying capacity is the number of a species the habitat can support during worst case conditions. i.e. severe winter.
Active fall turkey hunters reported encountering unprecedented bird numbers. Official WDNR kill stats show a decrease in the harvest. I believe this is due to hunter effort. The number of fall turkey hunters has been in steady decline for several years; perhaps there are only 27,000 fall turkey hunters statewide. My point is fall hunter harvest is not a reliable indicator of the turkey population.
2016 Spring Turkey Forecast for Wisconsin Turkey Management Unit 2
I have no experience hunting in unit 2. Tags are limited there versus the population of turkey hunters, so I leave the available tags for those hunters. The network reports nearly the same abundance as the 1,3, and 4. So it will be an excellent spring hunt in zone 2.
2016 Spring Turkey Forecast for Wisconsin Turkey Management Units 5,6, & 7
Again reports are indicating unprecedented high numbers of wild turkeys. There are so few tags available in these units that I have not tried to get any. For the most part, it appears residents are the primary purchasers of these rare turkey tags. Hunters should see excellent success this spring.
charlie elk’s 2016 Wisconsin Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Forecast Summary
Can’t wait to start hunting! This spring 2016 is set to be a record-setting season. Unless there is significantly bad spring weather that keeps hunters out the field, the total ’16 turkey harvest will exceed 51,000 turkeys.
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