Turkey hunting success might depend on weather

DNR wildlife biologist Pete Kailing offered some unique thoughts on the upcoming turkey hunting season. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Sunday’s freak mid-April snowstorm has become a faint memory for hunters, who are hoping the turkey season, which begins on Monday, will have a successful start and ending.

For Area K, which includes Osceola, Mecosta, Lake and Newaygo counties, the first season is April 22-28 with 4,000 permits, maximum quota. The second season is April 29 to May 5 with 4,500 permits, maximum quota.

The third season provides an unlimited number of statewide hunting licenses valid for public and private lands, and goes May 6-31.

“Hopefully we’re done with snowstorms,” area DNR wildlife biologist Pete Kailing said. “It should be a good first season as long as we don’t get more cold weather and more snow. Things are starting to clean up. There’s a lot of toms strutting already, and gobblers. It should be a good season. Keep your fingers crossed that the winter holds.

“It’s a bit of a gamble,” Kailing said. “The first and second seasons are a draw so there’s fewer people in the woods and the turkeys have not been hunted much. It’s in the breeding time so they’re easier to call. Gobblers respond to hen yelps. It’s the classic hunt where he’s responding to your call.

“The late season is done and a lot of breeding is done. Mosquitoes are out so it’s a little more uncomfortable and it can get hot. If the weather is delayed, that third hunt can be good as well. Most hard core turkey hunters prefer the earlier seasons. But it’s only a week long and it’s done. If you have bad weather, it’s not a good choice.”

There’s been a shift in Michigan, Kailing noted, to prefer the third season because there’s more weekends and more flexibility of schedules.

It also appears, according to initial reports, the turkeys have generally survived winter stress.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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