Wisconsin turkey seasons, license requirements, and more.

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Consistently named one of the best places to hunt turkeys, Wisconsin boasts liberal boundaries, a unique seasonal structure, and millions of acres of public land.

While wild turkey populations across the country have seen declines in recent years, Wisconsin appears to be holding its own with consistently high numbers and strong wildlife management.

Hunters flock to the Badger State each spring in search of long beards – here’s why.

Wisconsin Turkey Population and History

Wild turkeys roamed much of Wisconsin in the 1800s, but overhunting and habitat loss left them virtually non-existent in the state by 1871. More than a century later, the Department of Natural Resources of Wisconsin (DNR) and the National Wild Turkey Federation have partnered to reintroduce birds in 1974. Wild turkeys, native to Missouri, have taken over prime habitat in the southwestern part of the state.

After years of successful relocation programs, wild turkey populations have begun to thrive throughout Wisconsin. Through these efforts, Wisconsin reinstated a spring turkey season in 1983 and added a fall season in 1994.

According to recent estimates, the state of Wisconsin now has a healthy population of approximately 350,000 eastern wild turkeys. Badger State issues nearly 245,000 tags each year, but the bulk of them remain unfilled. For the spring 2021 gobbler season, Wisconsin DNR reported a total harvest of 37,266 birds and a hunter success rate of 16.9%.

Wisconsin grows them too. The state has many entries in the NWTF Recordsand two counties in the state are in the top 20 largest birds.

Wisconsin Turkey Seasons and Licenses

Wisconsin’s turkey season pattern varies across many surrounding states, but leaves the door open for dedicated hunting in a single area week-to-week.

Rather than one long statewide season for all hunters, Wisconsin divides the spring into six different seasons letters A to F, and seven distinct turkey hunting areas. The season generally runs from mid-April to the end of May.

When registering for the lottery, hunters can indicate their preferred seasons and areas. The deadline to apply for the spring season is usually in December. After the Wisconsin DNR selects the nominees, they are notified of their assigned season/area combinations. Any permits remaining after the lottery — called bonus harvest permits — are offered for sale over the counter on a first-come, first-served basis until they are used up. Hunters are limited to buying one per day.

For fall, Wisconsin has one to two seasons and the application deadline is usually in March. For the 2021-2022 fall turkey season, hunters had nearly four months to complete tags between mid-September and early January.

Hunters can tag bearded hens or tomcats in the spring, while birds of any sex are fair game in the fall.

Here are the 2022 Wisconsin Spring Turkey dates:

  • Youth Hunt: April 16-17
  • Period A: April 20-26
  • Period B: April 27 – May 3
  • Period C: May 4 – 10
  • Period D: May 11 – 17
  • Period E: May 18 – 24
  • Period F: May 25 – 31

The application fee is only $3 for resident and non-resident hunters. Spring Turkey Permit ring in at $60 for staters, while resident adults pay just $15. Turkey stamps cost $5.25. The spring turkey hunting authorization premiums are $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents.

Wisconsin Turkey Hunting Territory and Regulations

Even for out-of-state hunters or residents who don’t have access to private hunting land, Wisconsin is a great turkey state. With over 7 million acres of public land and the resources available to locate a spring gobbler spot, Wisconsin offers plenty of opportunities for any hunter. If you prefer a fully guided hunt on private land, Wisconsin is also home to several hunting outfitters.

Wisconsin allows turkey hunters to use shotguns, crossbows and vertical bows. Generally, hunters cannot use any type of electric calls or baits, hunt turkeys in the spring with the help of dogs, or bait birds (although hunting near agricultural fields and plots of land is legal). Some special regulations and exceptions are in place for young people and hunters with disabilities.

Hunters must register all harvests by phone or online by 5:00 p.m. the following day. Like most states, Wisconsin has an extensive list of rules and regulations that can change from year to year, so be sure to check for the latest updates before you hit the field.

Seasons and special programs

Wisconsin’s Mentored Hunter Program gives novice hunters the opportunity to try the sport without first taking a hunter education course. Experienced and licensed hunters can take someone born on or after January 1, 1973 to show them the ropes. The mentee must still obtain a hunting license and a harvest authorization, and remain within easy reach of the mentor during the entire hunt.

Young Wisconsin hunters under 16 have access to a two-day youth season in mid-April before other seasons begin. Youth hunting is open to residents and non-residents, but youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years of age or older. Young hunters still need to purchase a Spring Turkey Permit, Stamp and Harvest Authorization to participate, but they are available at a reduced cost.

Wisconsin hunters with a Class A, B, or C license for the disabled can apply for the state’s Wild Turkey Hunt for the Disabled, which takes place only on designated private land.

Wisconsin’s Learn to Hunt program provides participants with comprehensive hunting education outside of the normal season. With a combination of classroom and field instruction often facilitated by conservation clubs, the program teaches students hunting tactics and safety information.

All in all, Wisconsin is a great place to hunt thunder chickens. When asked where in the United States he would prefer to hunt, the former turkey call champ Shane Simpson said: “The obvious choice for me would be Wisconsin. This state has a healthy turkey population, vast amounts of publicly accessible land, inexpensive non-resident tags, and liberal boundaries. Wisconsin has it all. that and its turkey population is made up of the eastern wild turkeys, which is my favorite subspecies to chase.”

NEXT: NEBRASKA TURKEY HUNTING SEASONS, LICENSES AND MORE

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