G&F Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2013

G&F Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2013

With springtime rapidly approaching, it can only mean one thing — turkey time is upon us.

In many ways, there's no time like the present to get a gobbler in your sights. As bird numbers continue to rise, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) reports there are an estimated 6.4 million wild turkeys spread out across the U.S. and Canada. Missouri, the top wild turkey producing state, had 58,421 birds taken last year alone. Alabama, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were not far behind, with 142,000 wild turkeys harvested between them.


That said, there's also been some major concerns heading into the 2013 spring turkey season. The biggest of those has got to be over the escalating tension between gun owners and the anti-gun constituencies as they push legislation that threatens our American hunting heritage.



Along with the current political climate, the NWTF also continues to monitor habitat, especially as it affects turkey populations. Despite a widespread U.S. drought, though, the NWTF is optimistic that 2013 will be a big year for turkey hunters.

Many states — like Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma — saw booming turkey numbers and outstanding harvest rates in 2012, which makes state officials enthusiastic about the prospects for 2013. There's no time like now to capitalize on the multitude of turkey hunting opportunities in a great number of areas around the country.


For all the latest, exclusive forecast information for your state in 2013, check out Game & Fish's official 2013 turkey hunting forecast in the gallery below. Click on the link to your state for exclusive state-by-state forecast information.


Arkansas

Arkansas turkey hunting is still on life support, but it\'s showing remarkable signs of improvement. After a record year in 2003, Arkansas fell to 9,000 birds harvested in 2012 — 11,000 less birds in a 10-year span. The state has responded by cutting back on hunting opportunities, and it feels confident numbers will slowly rise.

For more information about turkey hunting in Arkansas, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

California

The turkey population in most areas is robust this year and hunter success should be high. As usual, several factors will come into play, including the timing of breeding phases and inclement weather. The turkeys are there and the trick is to persist until you find yourself in the right place at the right time.

For more information about turkey hunting in California, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Florida

With the ability to hunt two species of wild turkey in the same state, Florida hunters definitely have an edge. Although Florida doesn\'t do statewide turkey assessments, officials believe numbers will be as strong and impressive as last year.

For more information about turkey hunting in Florida, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Georgia

Turkey populations for 2013 are estimated to be around 335,000, which has remained steady since 2010. The numbers are very solid — even more impressive when you consider they were around 17,000 in 1973. Much like last year, hunters in Georgia can expect a great chance at a turkey again in 2013.

For more information about turkey hunting in Georgia, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Great Plains

It\'s hard to conceive of a better place to hunt turkeys than the Great Plains region. You can buy multiple permits across states, seasons are liberal in length and you can hunt Rios, Easterns and Merriam\'s in the same state. It doesn\'t get much better than that.

In Nebraska, 32,520 permits were issued and 21,419 turkeys were harvested in 2012 — that\'s a 62 percent success rate, well above the national average (25 percent).

For more information about turkey hunting in the Great Plains region, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast for Kansas , Nebraska , North Dakota and South Dakota.

Illinois

Illinois turkey numbers in 2012 grew to 15,121, which was better than an already impressive showing in 2011. Will the same trend prove true in 2013? According to biologists, turkey numbers are still strong, but the state DNR is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Northern Illinois typically provides the best harvest numbers, with 8,935 turkeys taken in 2012. The southern part of the state was still at an impressive 7,006 turkeys harvested. Biologists in Illinois predict that turkey numbers in 2013 will be the same, or slightly improved, from last year, which is great news for hunters.

For more information about turkey hunting in Illinois, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Indiana

Despite warmer conditions in 2012, hunters killed 12,655 turkeys in Indiana, which made for a solid year. Does that mean 2013 is set up to be a great year? Biologists in Indiana are hesitant to make that bold of a prediction, especially since brood numbers haven\'t been that great in recent years. This has mainly affected the number of jakes harvested.

Even with some of these concerns, state biologists are optimistic about turkey production in 2013.

For more information about turkey hunting in Indiana, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Iowa

Turkey harvest numbers were up slightly in 2012 from the year prior — a positive trend for turkey hunters in Iowa. With a robust youth season and strong adult harvest numbers the last couple of years, state officials think 2013 is going to be a strong year as well.

For more information about turkey hunting in Iowa, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Kentucky

With strong survival and nesting numbers in 2012, officials in Kentucky are predicting another solid year in 2013. Despite two years of odd weather, Kentucky has maintained strong numbers all around. Officials also believe a dry spell actually helped more than it hurt.

For more information about turkey hunting in Kentucky, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Louisiana

According to biologists, this spring'™s hunting in Louisiana should be a bit tougher than last year'™s. In some areas the birds had a hard time in the spring of 2011, resulting in both poor nesting success and adult bird mortality. That doesn'™t mean the turkey population is in trouble, but it does mean hunters may be in for a couple of years of more challenging hunting.

For more information about turkey hunting in Louisiana, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Michigan

Michigan has not had a banner turkey hatch in several years, but it looks like 2012 may provide just that. As a result, Joe Robison of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources predicts 2013 will be a fantastic year for turkey hunters.

With an already impressive population of right at 200,000 birds in 2012, Robison predicts that number will increase this year. Also, Michigan has a high success rate — 36 percent — which should make for an exciting turkey hunting season.

For more information about turkey hunting in Michigan, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Minnesota

Minnesota had a great spring for nesting in 2012, something that should bring great turkey hunting this year. While in the past hunters had to traverse to the southern part of the state if they wanted to bag a turkey, numbers have rapidly expanded all across the state.

"I\'m thrilled with what turkeys are doing in Minnesota," Tom Glines, National Wild Turkey Federation regional director, said. According to Glines, lottery tags are up 10 percent in many areas, and 20 percent in others. All that means lots of opportunity in 2013.

For more information about turkey hunting in Minnesota, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Mississippi

Mississippi boasts one of the largest wild turkey populations in the country. And with over a quarter million of these birds scattered from the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico, hunters should have no problem finding a gobbler to chase on opening morning.

For more information about turkey hunting in Mississippi, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Missouri

The Missouri Department of Conservation estimates the state\'s current spring turkey population is at around 300,000 birds. Unfortunately, poor production in recent times has caused a decline in the turkey population, due to abnormally wet periods during nesting and hatching periods. However, because the last two years were so good in terms of production, it is likely 2013 will be a high water mark, which is great news for hunters.

For more information about turkey hunting in Missouri, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

New England

There are no two ways about it — New England is stocked full of turkeys, which is great news for hunters in 2013. With an estimated turkey population of 214,000, hunters have great chances to tag a bird. Maine has the highest numbers, while New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts are not far behind.

For more information about turkey hunting in New England, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

North Carolina

While turkey hunting numbers should remain somewhat steady, early data in North Carolina suggests the downward trend of turkey populations may continue into the 2013 season. Almost 20 percent of turkeys harvested in 2012 were jakes, which means less mature turkeys this year. State officials also recommend hunting federal lands, though permits are required for these particular hot spots.

For more information about turkey hunting in North Carolina, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Ohio

Ohio looks to be in good shape for the 2013 turkey hunting season, with great populations of birds across the state. Officials estimate 2013 and 2014 will both be great years, with harvest rates predicted to be around 18,000 birds.

For more information about turkey hunting in Ohio, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Oklahoma

Depending on what happens with the drought, Oklahoma officials predict the 2013 turkey season will be a mirror of what happened last year. The state had solid numbers, despite obviously dry conditions. That said, the drought definitely had a negative impact on overall turkey numbers state wide. Numbers are still strong — 55,747 turkeys in the western region alone — but down 9 percent from last year.

For more information about turkey hunting in Oklahoma, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Pacific Northwest

States like Oregon and Washington, both in the Pacific Northwest, have an optimistic turkey outlook for 2013. The southwest corner of Oregon is the state\'s typical hot spot for turkey hunting, and it looks good this year as well. Since 2011, the Melrose unit in southwest Oregon has a 51 percent success rate, which is well above the national average.

Washington figures not to be far behind, with a success rate of 36 percent last year and a harvest of 5,600 birds. The hottest areas are in northeast part of the state.

For more information about turkey hunting in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania turkey numbers have continued to rise and fall over the last few years, but the good news is results have been consistently stable. According to officials with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, population numbers have dropped off a little, but that was after a roaring boom in the 2000\'s. They also predict a solid year for turkeys in 2013.

For more information about turkey hunting in Pennsylvania, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Rocky Mountains

When most sportsmen think of Colorado, Wyoming and much of the Rocky Mountain region, they think of monster mulies and bugling elk. And for good reason. But with a turkey hunting success rate of 25 percent in Colorado — on par with the national average — and 70 percent for non-residents in Wyoming, it\'s also a great place to track down a turkey.

For those hunters lucky enough to draw a limited tag, there is usually a success rate of 55 percent. Hunting Rio Grandes is a bit tougher, as the tag usually takes about 3 to 4 years to acquire.

For more information about turkey hunting in the Rocky Mountain region, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

South Carolina

After two productive years for wild turkeys, South Carolina looks to be in good shape for the 2013 turkey season. According to state officials, some of the best places to hunt are public land areas like those in the Sumer National Forest. With good production since 2010, these areas are full of 2-year-old gobblers.

For more information about turkey hunting in South Carolina, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Tennessee

Coming off great turkey harvest years in 2010 and 2012 — with 37,000 and 33,789 birds harvested, respectively — things look good again for Tennessee in 2013. Amazingly, Tennessee harvested 30,000 birds every year for the last decade, which says a lot about its ability to produce great turkey hunting year after year.

For more information about turkey hunting in Tennessee, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Virginia

Virginia state officials believe the state is in the midst of a leveling off period, which means consistent turkey harvest rates statewide. Turkey populations have dropped by about 1.2 percent over the last decade, but harvest numbers have remained strong.

For more information about turkey hunting in Virginia, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

West Virginia

In 2012, West Virginia saw a fairly substantial decline in turkey harvest numbers, which was probably affected by low brood numbers dating back to 2009. Likewise, state officials believe a strong hatch in 2011 should translate into much improved harvest numbers for 2013.

For more information about turkey hunting in West Virginia, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has consistently been rising in turkey production each year, and this year it looks like it has reached a place of dynamic stability — turkeys are present everywhere in hearty numbers. In 2012, 42,612 turkeys were harvested — a 6 percent increase over the previous year.

Likewise, a mild winter and early spring appear to have helped turkeys pull off successful broods, according to the state DNR. With 82 percent of broods consisting of toms last year, biologists say hunting should be great in 2013.

For more information about turkey hunting in Wisconsin, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Alabama

State officials in Alabama say 2012 was a solid year for turkey hunters across the state. They predict 2013 will be much of the same, with good poult production to show for the last couple of years. As is the case in many states, quality turkey production in Alabama has come as a result of good habitat management.

Private land in Alabama offers some of the best hunting options, though a $16 permit gives you access to Wildlife Management Area lands that are also prime hunting grounds for turkeys.

For more information about turkey hunting in Alabama, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

Texas

According to state officials, there are around 500,000 Rio Grande turkeys living in Texas, meaning there are lots of opportunities for hunters across the state. The state also had above average survival rates, which should make for a great season in 2013.

For more information about turkey hunting in Texas, be sure to check out the 2013 G&F turkey hunting forecast.

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