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Notes: Spring turkey season looking promising

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 30, 2013, at 4:06 p.m.

Monday’s opening of turkey season for archery, youth and disabled hunters begins two months of spring hunting. Firearms season opens April 10.

The forecast is mostly good.

Turkey numbers have started a rebound in the eastern one-third of the state, said Jim Pitman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism turkey biologist. Wet springs a few years ago had almost wiped out reproduction in many areas. Two years of good hatches should mean better numbers of yearling jakes and 2-year-old toms this spring.

Pitman described central Kansas populations as “a mixed bag, there are still good numbers of turkeys but some places didn’t have much production last year.”

The further north, he said, the higher chances rains the past two years have hurt the hatch.

Meanwhile, lingering winter weather may have the Kansas wild turkey breeding season running a week or so behind many years, said Jared McJunkin, National Wild Turkey Federation field supervisor.

“From what I’ve seen, the birds have broken up a little bit from winter flocks, but they’re still in some pretty good flocks,” he said. “Last spring it had been so much warmer, the birds were really well scattered by now. The youth and archery season was great hunting last year.”

McJunkin said early youth, archery and disabled hunters may want to look for birds near where they wintered in large flocks, thanks to this year’s conditions. A few days of warm, spring-like weather could get the birds moving out to find breeding and nesting territories.

That means conditions could be much better by the beginning of firearms season April 10, and beyond as many hens get bred and toms are vocal and mobile looking for love.

“The last week of April and first week of May are often prime time,” said McJunkin.

As well as regular state and federally-owned public hunting areas, Kansas turkey hunters will have access to about 200,000 acres of public land, leased for public hunting, under Wildlife and Park’s spring walk-in program.

Jake George, Wildlife and Parks private lands program coordinator, said the land is in more than 70 counties, and in more than 1,000 tracts that average about 190 acres. All open Monday for turkey hunters and require no special permit to access. For more details, go to www.kdwpt.state.ks.us.

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