A few states have already begun to release preliminary numbers on how successful turkey hunters were in 2006 and while cooler-than-normal, rainy weather definitely had an impact in many places, some states still managed to do quite well. In fact, most, even if their numbers were down, still saw a lot of happy hunters at the end of the season. Here's a quick list of which state set bold harvest numbers and which ones went a little cold this year with links to longer articles on each.
North Carolina-Finally breaking the 10,000-harvest mark, which state biologists have anticipated for the past six years, hunters not only reached the milestone, they shattered it, taking a record 11,706 turkeys. I can remember seeing few turkeys there when I worked as a newspaper reporter, but the Tar Heel state is finally on its way to being recognized as a turkey hunting destinations.
Vermont-While numbers are still being counted, to this point, averages reveal that this year's tag tally is ahead of pace with 3,433 birds being counted so far. That is ahead of the average for the past three years of 3,159. Last year, hunters set a record by killing 4,649 toms. We'll see how the final numbers play out.
West Virginia-They didn't set a record, but they took a step in the right direction after a few years of declines. State hunter success was up 8.3 percent this year with 11,869 turkeys killed.
Illinois-The state set a record this year with hunters tagging 16,140 turkeys.
New Hampshire-Despite heavy rains through much of the season, the game agency there expects 2006 to set another record. We'll have more on this later.
Wisconsin-It was a small jump up, but jump they did. Wisconsin hunters tagged 1,079 gobblers in 2006. That is 17 more than the previous year.
Tennessee-With a few more check stations to be tallied, Tennessee was reporting a harvest of 31,178 turkeys.
Maryland-Saw 3,008 turkeys tagged this season, four percent below the record harvest of 3,136. In reporting the news, the Washinton Times Gene Mueller offers a little rant on how the word "harvest" is used instead of "kill." I'm actually with you Gene in that hunters kill animals and should say so without apologies. But as a writer, I still like a long list of words available to me with which I can express what I want to say. I use both...without apologies.
Ohio-Okay, okay, Ohio hunters did tag 4 percent more gobblers than they did in 2005 by killing 18,262 birds. But that number fell a bit short of the anticipated harvest of 20,000 to 25,000 birds the Ohio Department of Wildlife was anticipating. Ashtabula County on the other hand, re-established itself as the state's premier spot for turkey hunting.
Missouri-Say it ain't so! Missouri on the "cold" list. Well, let me explain. Yes and no. Missouri hunters checked 51,018 turkeys this season, a five percent decrease from last year. But hey, that is STILL MORE THAN 51,000 turkeys!!!!! They won't kill that many in another 35 years in Wisconsin. In fact, it remains the seventh largest turkey harvest in the state's 47 years of modern turkey seasons.
Let us know how things went in your neck of the woods. Was it a better season than you hoped or are you ready to forget about it and are counting the days until next spring?
Photo credit: National Wild Turkey Federation/D. Toby Thompson