If your quest to bag the biggest buck no longer fulfills your hunting desire, you should give wild turkey hunting a try.
Harvesting your Thanksgiving dinner isn’t necessarily a piece of cake.
“Wild turkeys present a real challenge to hunters,” said Robert Manwell, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “They are very wary and have extraordinary eyesight, making it difficult to get close enough for a clean shot.”
Don’t let that discourage you though.
More than 8,200 turkeys were harvested in fall 2009, a 12 percent success rate for the 68,617 hunters that were issued permits. And the spring hunt success rate was double that at 24 percent.
So where’s the best hunting?
The state of Wisconsin is divided into seven hunting zones during the fall season with certain zones seemingly more populated.
Zones 1 and 3 are usually the most productive in terms of turkeys harvested, according to the WDNR. These zones encompass the southwest corner of the state (Zone 1) and the central portion of Wisconsin (Zone 3).
In terms of hunter success, zones 2 and 4 are a step above the others. Zone 2 stretches the eastern lakeshore reaching from Door County in the north to the Illinois border in the south. Zone 4 lies in the west-central portion of the state stretching from Highway 51 in the east to the Minnesota border in the west.
While it’s most common to hunt on private land (with permission of course), there are some public spots that offer great opportunities including:
- Kickapoo Valley Reserve, La Farge: This reserve is an 8,569-acre tract of land open to the public for hunting. (Zone 1)
- Black River State Forest, Black River Falls: With the appropriate license, this forest is open to public hunting. (Zone 1 & 3)
- Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Necedah: It’s the largest public hunting area near Madison and Milwaukee. Turkey hunting isn’t as popular here as deer hunting, but the refuge has a healthy population of turkeys. (Zone 1)
And after you work up a hunger, don’t forget to stop and enjoy a great meal in the area. There are a number of restaurants that cater to hunters and welcome them with open arms. Here’s just a sampling:
- Cozy Corner Tavern, Black River Falls
- Orange Moose Bar & Grill, Black River Falls
- Lake Arbutus Sports Bar, Neillsville
- Stones Throw Supper Club, Merrillan
- Castle Hill Supper Club, Merrillan
For more information on permits, zone borders and success rates, click here.