For the second straight year, the Louisiana turkey harvest was higher than average and in fact, the second best since 2009. Turkey hunters took 2,833 birds in 2023, only down 13 from 2022 (2,846), based on tag validation data.
“Good weather conditions throughout the season combined with relatively good reproduction in some management regions of the state the last two years are likely contributing factors to the harvest increase,” Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Small Game Program Manager Cody Cedotal said.
In 2018, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission pushed back the start of turkey season to aid in reproduction.
“Since 2018, when the start of turkey season was moved back, reported turkey harvest was constant until 2022 when a significant increase occurred,’’ Cedotal said. “2023 is now the second year of elevated reported harvest. Hopefully this increased level of harvest will be maintained or improved upon in future years. This would indicate increasing populations and provide additional evidence that the season change is working.’’
A solid start
The 2023 season began with an above average reported harvest during youth weekend and the first two weeks of the season.
Reported turkey harvests for the last two weeks of the season increased slightly from previous years’ reports for the same time periods. Season assessments received from hunters ranged from poor to very good. Many hunters indicated increased encounters with jakes (year old males), which is an indicator of good reproduction in some areas of the state. Similar reports were noted in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Results from the 2022/2023 Louisiana Big and Small Game Harvest Survey, will be available this summer, and allow for a comparison of estimated harvest generated from that survey and an assessment of hunter-effort for the 2023 season.
“Weather conditions have been somewhat dry throughout April in many areas,’’ Cedotal said. “This is encouraging and has potentially set the stage for good nesting and brood rearing conditions. Hopefully this drier trend will continue through May and into June. Good quality habitat is also essential for long-term sustainability of turkey populations, so work with your local LDWF biologist and see if additional habitat enhancements can be made on your property.’’
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