Missouri has started its spring turkey hunting season with low population numbers. Jason Isabelle, a Missouri Department of Conservation turkey biologist, says the state has had three years of poor hatches resulting in a smaller turkey population. This small population is affecting more than just the number of turkeys being harvested.
Missouri is one of only 10 states that continues to limit turkey hunting. Adults are allowed to hunt turkeys one hour before sunrise through 1 p.m. Changing this regulation and extending hunting hours may not be possible with the low numbers.
“It is a little bit of a challenging time given that we’ve had three years of really, really poor hatches in our state, and in a lot of areas in our state, turkey numbers are down,” said Isabelle. “And so, we just want to be a bit cautious at this time with further liberalizations to the hunting season.”
Missouri kids got a turkey hunting head start at the crack of dawn on April 6 and 7. The early start date is not the only advantage given to hunting kids. The state of Missouri allows youths to hunt for two full days, sunrise to sunset, without adult competition to help them improve their skills. Isabelle says Missouri’s hunting regulations remain because it’s a state tradition.
“The 1 p.m. closure during the regular season was something that was started way back in 1960,” said Isabelle. “The regulation at the time was designed to not take a chance of flushing those birds off the nest and to limit gobbler harvest.
Isabelle says the state has had many requests from hunters to end this decades-long tradition and change could be in the future for spring turkey hunters throughout Missouri.