Turkey season right around the corner

LANSING — Michigan’s first turkey season of the year is right around the corner.

Plentiful birds, 10 million-plus acres of public land available for hunting, and spring turkey season just days away – don’t miss your chance to gobble up some prime hunting April 23-May 31. The state’s strategic season structure – with multiple “openers” – gives hunters options that provide the opportunity to have a great hunting experience this spring.

That’s a giant leap from just decades ago. There was a time in Michigan when wild turkey was difficult to come by.

“I’ve heard stories from my grandpa about some of the wildlife we have today being hard to find when he was a kid,” said Katie Keen, communications coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. “It’s hard to imagine it was so different just a few generations back.”

Unregulated hunting and dramatic habitat changes had made some wildlife, including turkeys, scarce.

“This once-common bird was eliminated from Michigan by 1900. In 1977, Michigan’s turkey population was estimated at 6,000 birds, and only 17 counties were open to turkey hunting,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “Through reintroduction efforts by the DNR and other conservation partners, more than 200,000 turkeys now roam the wilds in nearly every corner of the state.”

Keen said that in 1977, hunters had a 1-in-4 chance of getting a spring turkey license, and only 400 turkeys were taken.

Today, she said, hunters just need to determine where they’d like to hunt, watch the DNR’s frequently-asked-questions video, get a license and go. Last year, hunters bagged about 33,000 wild turkeys during the fall and spring seasons combined.

“This spring, hunters should find good numbers of turkeys distributed throughout the state,” said Stewart. “Based on production last year, hunters can expect success similar to last spring … and last spring was pretty good.”

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