SPRINGFIELD, IL – Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary statewide total of 13,500 wild turkeys during the 2018 Spring Turkey Season, including the youth season, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced today. The 2018 total compares with the statewide turkey harvest of 15,720 in 2017. The statewide preliminary total includes the Youth Turkey Season harvest of 1,139 birds, compared with the record youth harvest of 1,539 turkeys in 2017. The statewide record total was set in 2006 when 16,569 turkeys were harvested.
Spring turkey hunting was open in 100 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The 2018 season dates were April 9-May 10 in the South Zone and April 16-May 17 in the North Zone. The Youth Spring Turkey Season was March 31-April 1 and April 7-8. This was the second year the youth turkey season was open for two weekends statewide.
Turkey hunters this spring took a preliminary total of 5,514 wild turkeys during all season segments in the South Zone, compared with 6,842 last year in the south. The North Zone preliminary harvest total this year was 7,986 wild turkeys, compared with 8,878 in northern counties in 2017.
The top counties for spring wild turkey harvest in the South Zone in 2018 were Jefferson (362), Randolph (303), Jackson (287), Marion (269), and Pope (261). The top five North Zone counties for spring turkey harvest this year were Jo Daviess (584), Fulton (336), Adams (331), Pike (310), and Hancock (296).
Multiple factors likely contributed to the reduction in harvest totals this season.
“We anticipated some declines as a result of the poor production of young turkeys noted during our 2017 Brood Survey last summer,” said Luke Garver, IDNR Wild Turkey Program Manager. “Youth season hunters experienced cold and wet weather during both weekends in much of the state, and winter-like conditions continued into the early season segments in both the North and South Zones. It is not often Illinois turkey hunters can say they’ve had the opportunity to experience both snowfall and 90-degree weather in one season.”