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Youth harvests thousands of birds ahead of annual turkey season


Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that young turkey hunters in Missouri harvested 3,721 birds over the past youth weekend, April 6 and 7. Top harvest counties were Gasconade with 92 birds harvested, Osage with 90, and Franklin with 89.

Young hunters checked 2,550 birds during the 2023 spring youth weekend.

"Favorable morning weather appears to have more than made up for some windy afternoons this year,” said MDC Turkey Biologist Nick Oakley. “Youth harvest increased by more than a thousand birds compared to the 2023 youth season and was the highest harvest total since 2017. Successively better hatches over the last several years have helped the turkey population stabilize and hunters are starting to see the results of that in the field.

The regular spring turkey season runs April 15 through May 5. For more information on spring turkey hunting in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/turkey. Submit your photos to news@marshfieldmail.com or send us a message on Facebook to be featured in the paper. 

There are a few changes to turkey hunting regulations for the fall seasons. The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval to the changes at its April 5 open meeting in Rolla.

The approved changes to fall turkey hunting will reduce the harvest limit from four to two birds of either sex and will now require both fall firearms turkey hunters and fall archery turkey hunters to purchase a fall turkey-hunting permit. Turkeys will no longer be included in the archery-deer permit.

According to MDC, the changes to fall turkey hunting regulations aim to reduce the fall harvest while maintaining as much opportunity for hunters as possible.

The Commission gave initial approval to the regulation changes at its December open meeting. The changes were then open for public comment from Feb. 2 through March 2. MDC received about 40 comments with most pertaining to the removal of turkeys from archery hunting permits.

The Commission previously approved MDC changes to shooting hours for the regular spring turkey season. Shooting hours are extended for private land only from a half-hour before sunrise to sunset. Shooting hours on public land will remain a half-hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. These changes are effective for the Spring 2024 turkey season. The annual youth spring turkey hunting portion will continue to have extended shooting hours from a half-hour before sunrise to sunset for both public and private land.


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