JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that hunters checked 1,952 turkeys during Missouri's fall firearms turkey season, Oct. 1-31. In Moniteau County, 15 birds were harvested. In nearby counties, 30 were harvested in Boone, 20 in Cole and 14 in Morgan. Top harvest counties were Crawford and Greene with 61 birds harvested in each, followed by Laclede with 59, and Phelps with 58.
In the same season in 2018, 2,170 were checked, with 18 harvested in Moniteau County.
MDC Turkey Biologist Reina Tyl expected fall turkey hunting to be challenging.
"A wet spring and flooding during the spring and summer created challenging nesting conditions across much of the state," Tyl said. "This contributed to below-average poult production throughout much of the state, so we have fewer young birds on the landscape this year."
Each summer, as part of the state's wild turkey brood survey, MDC staff and citizen volunteers record the number of hens and recently hatched turkeys they see, called poults.
These observations are then tallied to determine the success of the hatch, which is most often reported as a poult-to-hen ratio (PHR), or simply the average number of poults per hen observed during the survey. The poult-to-hen ratio is a good measure of nesting success and poult survival.
MDC's annual wild turkey brood survey for this year showed turkey production was below-average statewide and in most regions.
The statewide poult-to-hen ratio (PHR) for this year is 0.9, which is the same as last year's PHR but lower than the average PHR for the previous five years of 1.1. Turkey production was higher in southeastern Missouri this year than in other parts of the state. (See map of regions)
Tyl added there is still much to be learned about factors that affect turkey production, something she and her colleagues are working on.
"We're looking at our long-term turkey brood survey dataset and trying to determine how turkey numbers, weather, landscape, and their interactions affect production. This research should help explain some of the trends we're seeing in turkey production," she said.
Fall archery turkey hunting continues through Nov. 15 and resumes Nov. 27 through Jan. 15, 2020.
Get information about fall turkey hunting from MDC's 2019 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where hunting permits are sold and online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/downloads/2019FDT.pdf.