2021 spring turkey hunt opens Wednesday

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 3:24 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin’s first hunting season of 2021 is set to kick off this week, and the spring turkey hunt is more popular than ever before.

Across the state, wild turkeys are the second most pursued target of hunters trailing only deer.

And unlike other types of hunting, turkey hunting is bucking trends.

“Turkey hunting has become one of the more steady sports that we’ve seen, we’ve seen pretty much consistent declines in small game hunters and deer hunters, but turkey hunting has remained a little more stable,” says DNR Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist Alaina Gerrits.

According to Gerrits, there’s a reason for that.

“It’s less passive, it’s more of an active hunting experience where you’re calling turkeys and you’re working birds and using decoys, and moving around, it’s a more exciting way to recruit new people,” says Gerrits.

And that certainly happened last spring during the pandemic, with more than 130,000 people applying for the spring hunt, and another 90,000 bonus permits sold.

The COVID-19 impact has carried over.

“For this spring drawing, for 2021, we’ve seen a really large increase in the number of applicants, so I think that it is, it’s definitely been more popular in the last year or so,” explains Gerrits.

Gerrits says during the six weeks of turkey hunting last spring, hunters harvested more than 45,000 birds, a sign the state’s turkey population is in great shape.

“In the last decade or so we’ve just seen the population explode and we have huntable turkey populations in every single county in the state, historically before Europeans settled we did not even have turkeys in the northern part of the state, now we do and they’re really thriving,” says Gerrits.

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