JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With fall firearms turkey season and archery season underway, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) advises hunters it could be a challenging season.

This year’s annual wild turkey brood survey shows statewide turkey production was below average. The statewide poult-to-hen ratio (PHR) for this year was 0.9, which was 13% higher than last year’s ratio, but 25% lower than the previous five-year average. Regionally, PHRs ranged from 0.7 in the Ozarks West to 1.4 in the Northwest region (see related map). Turkey production was higher in north Missouri this year than in the southern part of the state.

MDC Turkey Biologist Jason Isabelle indicates that although this year’s late spring delayed nesting, conditions during the nesting and brood-rearing periods were favorable throughout much of the state. Yet, despite favorable weather, Isabelle indicates that this year’s low production isn’t surprising when you consider the trend in PHRs from previous years.

“During the late 1990s, turkey production steadily increased before declining during the 2000s. After once again increasing throughout much of the state from about 2009-2014, we experienced lower production during the last three years,” said Isabelle. “The PHR trend the last several years would have suggested production was going to be low this year.”

Isabelle adds that because weather often varies considerably from one year to the next, MDC staff would expect to see much more variability in the PHRs if annual weather variability was the primary driver of turkey production.

“The longer we collect turkey production data, the more it appears that annual variability of weather may not be quite as influential as we once believed,” said Isabelle. “That’s not to say that weather doesn’t affect turkey production. However, the cyclical patterns we’re seeing in PHRs suggest it’s

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