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Fall turkey hunting season opens Oct. 11

MADISON -- Wisconsinís fall wild turkey hunting season opens Saturday, October 11 and state wildlife officials say turkey population estimates indicate hunters should again have another excellent year of turkey hunting.

There were 78,750 permits issued for the 30-day season that runs through Nov. 9. This is an increase of about 4,000 permits over the 2002 fall permit level, according to Keith Warnke, upland wildlife ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

Last yearís (2002) fall harvest of 10,850 birds represented an overall success rate of 14.5 percent. The 2001 fall hunt produced 11,029 birds for a 15.4 percent success rate that year.

The Wisconsin turkey population now extends well into the northern part of the state. Expansion is occurring in part due to statewide mild winters, available habitat, and expanded habitat development and improvement. Revenue from the sale of the turkey stamps directly funds much of this habitat work. Warnke says that turkey reproduction appeared to be good to excellent this year, with broods seen throughout the stateís wild turkey range.

During the fall, Warnke says, turkeys spend more than 90 percent of the daylight hours in hardwood habitats. "Both brood flocks and adult male flocks make extensive use of areas dominated by oak and hickory," he says. "Turkey hunters should monitor the acorn crop in the area they hunt, as the success or failure of acorns will determine where turkeys will be feeding. In years of poor acorn production, turkeys spend proportionately more time in cornfields."

DNR officials say that all successful applicants for the fall turkey season should have received their permit. A total of 91,082 people applied for fall permits this year, up from 86,997 in 2002. There were more than 74,300 hunters who received a single permit, and approximately 4,300 who received two permits. Drawings are held to issue the permits for units that have more applicants than permits available, with preference given first to landowners in the zone, second to Wisconsin residents, and third to non-residents.

Since most turkey hunting occurs on private land, it is important for hunters to keep landowner relationships a high priority. Landowners in Wisconsin are usually willing to allow hunters to use their land as long as they ask politely for permission to do so.

Blaze orange requirements are in place for turkey hunters again in 2003. Turkey hunters must wear at least 50 percent of blaze orange during the period Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in many areas due to the early Zone T antlerless gun deer hunt and the youth firearm deer hunt. Details are spelled out in the Wild Turkey Hunting Regulations Fall 2003 pamphlet available at any DNR service center or online through the DNR Web site. There are also blaze orange requirements in effect for turkey hunters due to special chronic wasting disease hunts in certain management units. Refer to the 2003 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations prior to the turkey season.

Recreation safety specialists say there are some special safety concerns that hunters need to pay attention to when turkey hunting. Primarily, they need to be aware of other hunters in the field during this time, both turkey hunters and those pursuing other game. Turkey hunters should not stalk a turkey. A turkey hunter who tries stalking a calling turkey is often actually stalking another hunter. Turkey hunters who are wearing camouflage should let others know of their whereabouts by shouting out to them.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023 or Andrea Mezera (608) 261-8458




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