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Nebraska spring turkey harvest, success rates rise

LINCOLN – Just in time for the fall turkey season, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has finished its analysis of a survey of spring turkey hunters.

According to survey results, spring turkey hunters enjoyed a high rate of success in Nebraska in 2016. More turkeys were harvested during the 2016 spring season compared to 2015, despite a slight drop in the number of permits sold.

Hunters who provided email addresses at the time they purchased 2016 spring turkey permits were surveyed by the Commission about their experiences. Turkey hunters without email addresses were able to access the survey from the Game and Parks website. Responses were received from 4,509 spring turkey hunters.

The estimated 2016 spring turkey harvest was 22,136 birds, an 11 percent increase from 2015. There were 33,831 permits sold, a decrease of 1 percent from 2015. The 65.7 percent success rate rose from 59 percent in 2015.

The survey revealed that spring turkey hunting continues to be a popular and satisfying experience in Nebraska. Ninety-seven percent of respondents indicated they would hunt turkeys in Nebraska again based on their experiences during the 2016 spring season. Sixty-five percent agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the quality of their hunting experience.

“Turkey populations in Nebraska continue to be robust,” said Karie Decker, interim wildlife division administrator for the Commission. “We expect hunters who take advantage of the fall season will see a lot of birds all across the state.”

Other survey responses indicate:

— The most frequently hunted counties were Lancaster and Knox for residents and Dawes and Lincoln for nonresidents. Overall, Knox and Lincoln were the most frequently hunted counties.

— The most popular subspecies pursued was Merriam’s turkey. While 58 percent of hunters pursued no particular subspecies, 33 percent went after Merriam’s, 11 percent for Easterns and 8 percent for Rio Grandes.

— Seventy-four percent of responding hunters did not think that they had encountered too many hunters in the field.

— Of the 1,709 hunters accompanying other hunters, 49 percent said they took youth less than 16 years of age and 33 percent said they took new adult hunters age 16 or older.

To read more results of the survey, visit: OutdoorNebraska.gov/WildTurkey.

The 2016 fall turkey season is Sept. 15 – Jan. 31, 2017. Permits may be purchased at OutdoorNebraska.org.