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Numbers down in 2007 fall turkey hunt

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There was a drop in the number of turkeys taken during this past fall's turkey hunting season, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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Wisconsin wild turkey hunters registered a preliminary count of 11,925 birds this year which is down from 12,033 birds last year.

However, DNR officials say that registration stubs are still arriving.

This year there were several changes made to the season, one of which gave hunters the ability to use dogs.

"Turkey hunting with dogs was available on a trial basis to hunters in a nine-county area in the southwest. We don't have specific harvest statistics to compare yet for those counties but anecdotal reports suggest that the trial season went well," said Scott Hull, a DNR upland game ecologist.

He added that the fall season was extended by 21 days (Sept. 15-Nov. 15), giving hunters more flexibility and opportunity and the DNR set the number of permits at 94,800.

The DNR issued 80,262 permits in a lottery drawing and sold the remaining 13,071 over the counter.

The application period for 2008 spring season permits closed Dec. 10. The drawing for just less than 213,000 permits will be in late January.

Leftover spring permits will go on sale over the counter at 10 a.m. March 28, 2008.

The spring season runs April 16-May 25 and the statewide youth turkey hunting season will be April 12-13. The first of the six five-day spring turkey hunting periods starts April 16, 2008.

Another change being planned for the coming fall season will be that the DNR will be consolidating the current 40-plus turkey management zones into seven larger zones.

Officials say the consolidation will give hunters more hunting opportunity over a wider area.

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