Turkey Hunting in Wisconsin

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  • A
  • 350,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 230,000 (estimated)

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Wisconsin had long been a sleeper state for turkey hunting, but folks are finding out about it.

Originally, 334 Missouri birds were brought to Wisconsin in 1976. As these flocks flourished and expanded their range, they were trapped and transplanted elsewhere across the state. The rest is turkey-restoration history.

Last spring, 37,266 turkeys were harvested (down from 44,982 for the 2020 pandemic season when hunting pressure increased notably).

As this drop goes, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) adds that with rapidly increasing turkey populations and harvests, their populations now seem to be stabilizing at levels suitable to the available landscape habitat.

Turkey numbers and harvests, the WDNR says, will now likely ebb and flow in response to natural factors such as weather and food availability as well.

How and Where to Hunt

Wisconsin is divided into seven wild turkey management zones. 

An almost ideal mix of habitat across the state's southern two-thirds — hardwood forest, farm fields, pasture land, river and creek bottoms, grassland and wetlands — finds Wisconsin turkeys thriving.

The southwest quarter of the state is the wild turkey's original stronghold.

The western turkey country (hilly and wooded with farmed ridges and valley bottoms) is prime too. So is the east-central farm region (flatter, but still plenty of woods and fields).

The southeast suburban landscape has birds as well, a tricky proposition for hunters, but possible with landowner permission in some areas.

There are even birds way up in the so-called “northwoods” now. 

One downside to Wisconsin is limited public-land opportunities. Most are in the north, where turkeys admittedly are more spread out. 

To hunt wild turkey in Wisconsin, you need a turkey harvest authorization (formerly known as a carcass tag/permit), a turkey license and a wild turkey stamp.

Of course the early hunts are in demand, but late-season slots are also popular (when the hunting and the weather is sometimes better anyway).

Several reliable contacts say some landowners will let you hunt their turkeys — just don't ask about their deer.

— Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in Wisconsin (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting.