Wildlife biologist Jim Coffey says that’s 400 below last season. “I think that’s just kind of the case of our hunters this year — our hunters are a little bit beholden to the weather. And our second weekend we had some rainy conditions, and that’s typically one of our big weekends to be out hunting. So, that’s probably what accounted for that little bit of a drop,” according to Coffey.
He says they keep track of turkey numbers every year with a survey. “It varies across the state, and turkeys are kind of a fickle species, they are up and down every year. And that’s why we do our summer brood counts to get an idea of what to expect next year,” Coffey says. “We expected a little bit of a drop in the southern part of the state, but we had some good numbers in the northern part of the state and that kind of balances our overall when you think of statewide averages.”
There were 50,000 turkey tags purchased for the spring hunt, but only a small percentage took home a bird. “Only about 20 percent of Iowa turkey hunters are going to be successful,” Coffey says, “and I always like to put it into a sports analogy, we are playing on their home court. They know where the draws and ravines are at, they are a predator-related species, so they know everything is trying to get after them so they are always wary and they’ve got great sense. So, it is not an easy sport to participate in.”
The weather has raised a few concerns about how well the turkeys will fair in raising their offspring. “With any ground-nesting birds, turkeys, pheasants, quail, woodcock — any of those, woodcocks included — cold, wet springs are a big nemesis,” Coffey says. He says wild turkeys are a lot different then the domesticated ones, and their weight can vary quite a bit.
He says on if you shoot a young bird known as a Jake, which will weigh about 17 pounds or an adult bird, which can weigh from 22 to 28 pounds, depending on how active they have been. Coffey says the male birds are focused on mating in the spring and will actually lose weight during the mating season. Hunters are asked to help the DNR with collecting population information during its annual turkey count in July and August.
You can go to the DNR website and report online when see a turkey.