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Washburn: Spring turkey harvest down from 2020
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Washburn: Spring turkey harvest down from 2020

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Iowa’s five segment, 35-day spring turkey season concluded May 16. According to data obtained through the Department of Natural Resources’ harvest reporting system, a total of 11,680 wild turkeys were bagged during 2021, a decrease of nearly three thousand birds from last year’s harvest of 14,614 turkeys.

Turkeys were bagged in 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties during 2021. A total of 411 turkeys were reported from Clayton county – the highest number tallied for a single county. No turkeys were reported from Grundy county.

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In North Central Iowa, all counties reported a modest to significant decrease over 2020. In Cerro Gordo county, a total of 129 turkeys were reported this spring compared to 135 in 2020. In Winnebago county, 58 gobblers were taken in 2021; compared to 67 in 2020. A total of 29 wild turkeys were harvested in Hancock county, compared to 43 during 2020.

Spring gobblers

In North Central Iowa, all counties reported a modest to significant decrease in turkeys bagged over 2020. 

Following 2020’s record book turkey harvest, the decline in this year’s spring hunt comes as no surprise. As COVID-19 lockdowns began to grip the country last spring, a lot of unemployed Iowans suddenly had time on their hands. For many, spending time in the out-of-doors seemed a better option than endless days of sitting at home. Since turkey hunting is a solitary [physically distanced] form of outdoor recreation, more people – including many first timers -- hunted turkeys for more hours during more days than in previous years resulting in a dramatically increased bag. According to DNR Conservation Officers, hunting pressure -- especially on public areas -- was unprecedented during the 2020 turkey seasons. This year’s spring seasons appeared to signal a return to normal.

Enjoy more wildlife tales online at Washburn’s Outdoor Journal at

“If you don’t like the Iowa weather; wait five minutes and it will change.”

-Well known saying


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