Easter and Thanksgiving are traditional times of feasting on wild turkeys, and April is tops for viewing strutting toms, listening to turkey talk, conversation about turkeys, and enthusiasts scouting for hunting, photographing and viewing birds.
Aside from the local terms used by hunters, including henned-up, call-shy, shock-gobbling, strutter, and many more, wildlife biologists have to deal with jennies and jakes (immature hens and gobblers), bearded hens, beardless gobblers, strutting hens, legal hens and legal males during spring seasons.
Bearded hens are legal spring birds because they have a beard, and beardless gobblers and jakes, are legal because they are males. Hunters take mostly bearded gobblers or jakes.
Wisconsin’s turkeys are the eastern subspecies, or Meleagris gallopavo silvestris. There are four other turkey subspecies of note commonly called Merriam’s, Rio Grande, Florida and Gould’s. A sixth subspecies is believed to be extinct and is generally accepted as the forerunner of domestic birds. The ocellated turkey is a different species from these five subspecies.
The last word in the eastern turkey subspecies, silvestris, Latin for forest, is the primary habitat of Wisconsin’s wild turkey, brought here from Missouri.
Wisconsin has a spring and autumn hunting season with limited permits available, but like deer, those limits are never reached. Generally about 20-25 percent of the permits available are filled by turkey hunters. The permits are now called harvest authorizations.
Turkey hunting is regulated similar to deer hunting with zones or management units and some restrictions on gender during some seasons.
This weekend, April 14-15 is the youth season, open to hunters no older than 15 years. The regular season, beginning April 18, is divided into six periods, each seven days. Harvest authorizations are valid for one of the six seven-day periods.
About half the permits are awarded by lottery, the others offered prior to and during the season. Hunters can purchase additional authorizations for a zone and time period, if available. Most hunters, who purchase an extra authorization, purchase one, but some buy many more at $10 each.
Enjoy this season regardless of whether you gather turkeys with a bow, gun, camera and simply with your own two eyes. The camera and eye seasons are endless.
The USDA-Wildlife Service has confirmed a number of newborn calves depredated, several by coyotes and one by wolves in northern Wisconsin. Two kills were in Bayfield County and one in Florence County. Livestock producers may contact USDA-Wildlife Services at 1-800-433-0663 in Southern Wisconsin and 1-800-228-1368 in Northern Wisconsin if they suspect a wolf or bear has depredated or is harassing their livestock.
Many birds are now showing more brightness. Of particular note is the male American goldfinch, a common feeder bird, whose plumage seems to be getting brighter every day.
The American Water Spaniel Club is hosting its national specialty in August 2018 in Solon Springs. This relatively small dog originated in the Fox and Wolf River areas and was recognized as the State dog breed in the 1980s. It was bred to have a waterproof double coat, web feet, and being very muscular, particularly for its size. Contact Tim Otto, (715) 902-0582 for more details.
Fishing and hunting licenses have now expired and need to be renewed before engaging in the turkey and trout seasons.
Spring things continue to pop up, sometimes in unexpected places, but mostly in south, sunny locations were the soil warms best. It is common, for example, for morel mushrooms, green grasses and some blooms to be found where underground heat tunnels travel in urban, business and campus areas.
If we continue to say it is spring, maybe it is, in some ways.