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Illinois turkey hunters do better than last year: Harvest up slightly

If you’re looking for a reason behind Illinois hunters doing slightly better for wild turkey harvest this spring from the spring of 2016, the most likely explanation is pretty much in the record harvest doing the youth seasons.

At least from what I remember of the weather, the weekends were primarily as variable as weekend spring weather generally is, so I doubt that is the defining factor.

So I am going to side with the idea of the record youth hunt being the difference. Youth hunters bagged 1,541 birds, compared with 1,045 in 2016. That more than covers the difference between the overall harvest of 15,719 this spring and the 15,484 in 2016.

Here is the breakdown by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

Hunters in Illinois Harvested 15,719 Birds During 2017 Spring Turkey SeasonSPRINGFIELD, IL – Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary statewide total of 15,719 wild turkeys during the 2017 Spring Turkey Season, including the youth season. The 2017 total compares with the statewide turkey harvest of 15,484 in 2016. The statewide preliminary total includes the record Youth Turkey Season harvest of 1,541 birds, compared with youth season harvest of 1,045 turkeys in 2016.

Spring turkey hunting was open in 100 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The 2017 seasons were April 3-May 4 in the South Zone and April 10-May 11 in the North Zone. The Youth Spring Turkey Season was March 25-26 and April 1-2. This was the first year the youth turkey season was open for two weekends statewide, rather than one weekend for the South Zone and one for the North Zone.

Turkey hunters this spring took a preliminary total of 6,842 wild turkeys during all season segments in the South Zone, compared with 6,694 last year in the south. The North Zone preliminary harvest total this year was 8,877 wild turkeys, compared with 8,790 in the north in 2016.

“Weather always plays a big role in harvest numbers and 2017 was no different,” said Luke Garver, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Wild Turkey Project Manager. “For the first two-thirds of the season, harvest trends were well above average. The significant rain events we experienced across much of the state slowed harvest considerably. Despite a rainy end to the spring season, this year marked the third consecutive season of an increased harvest total. Additionally, we were encouraged to see the youth season being the success it was.”

The top counties for spring wild turkey harvest in the South Zone in 2017 were Jefferson (412), Jackson (359), Union (359), Randolph (349), and Pope (348). The top five North Zone counties for spring turkey harvest this year were Jo Daviess (610), Pike (404), Adams (395), Fulton (378), and Hancock (325).The table below includes the preliminary 2017 county-by-county spring turkey harvest results with comparable totals for 2016:Illinois Spring Turkey Season Harvest County Totals

County 2017 2016

Adams 395 389

Alexander 156 134

Bond 142 135

Boone 74 76

Brown 298 357

Bureau 163 157

Calhoun 239 210

Carroll 213 195

Cass 210 213

Champaign 26 22

Christian 51 41

Clark 181 158

Clay 219 210

Clinton 82 86

Coles 45 39

Crawford 210 166

Cumberland 48 54

DeKalb 16 21

DeWitt 54 45

Douglas 2 6

Edgar 80 85

Edwards 85 96

Effingham 117 86

Fayette 276 233

Ford 10 10

Franklin 166 152

Fulton 378 446

Gallatin 112 129

Greene 147 157

Grundy 56 56

Hamilton 252 234

Hancock 325 325

Hardin 134 145

Henderson 135 139

Henry 75 82

Iroquois 75 60

Jackson 359 313

Jasper 140 131

Jefferson 412 420

Jersey 187 187

JoDaviess 610 568

Johnson 264 278

Kane 5 2

Kankakee 35 34

Kendall 18 15

Knox 274 267

Lake 1 1

LaSalle 117 137

Lawrence 141 117

Lee 116 100

Livingston 26 19

Logan 43 37

Macon 26 27

Macoupin 275 303

Madison 213 241

Marion 337 380

Marshall 82 69

Mason 154 141

Massac 104 103

McDonough 140 137

McHenry 83 62

McLean 68 63

Menard 101 105

Mercer 203 192

Monroe 157 169

Montgomery 188 175

Morgan 126 147

Moultrie 29 24

Ogle 214 189

Peoria 153 153

Perry 252 233

Piatt 8 10

Pike 404 393

Pope 348 356

Pulaski 114 95

Putnam 45 37

Randolph 349 372

Richland 113 106

Rock Island 202 191

Saline 123 125

Sangamon 133 110

Schuyler 277 360

Scott 98 73

Shelby 120 117

St. Clair 126 140

Stark 13 6

Stephenson 248 231

Tazewell 57 65

Union 359 354

Vermilion 133 136

Wabash 56 48

Warren 68 75

Washington 131 149

Wayne 317 297

White 169 153

Whiteside 162 160

Will 73 51

Williamson 309 308

Winnebago 185 175

Woodford 79 103

Total: 15719 15484