Thousands of Leftovers for Spring Turkey Hunters

If you love hunting wild turkeys in the spring but forgot to apply for a harvest permit by the December deadline, you’re not plucked yet.

More than 16,000 bonus Zone 2 authorizations for Door, Kewaunee and other eastern Wisconsin counties will go on sale in March.

Jaqi Christopher, assistant upland wildlife ecologist for the DNR in Madison, said hunters who are successful in the drawing for 2019 permits should receive postcards in the mail this week.

Statewide, only 3,716 of the 138,918 hunters who applied for a harvest authorization failed to draw. With all seven state wild-turkey zones having leftovers, the only way that’s possible is if a hunter wasn’t flexible enough in his or her choice of time periods in which to accept a permit.

The 2019 spring wild-turkey season begins with dozens of Learn to Hunt programs in early April. The annual youth hunting weekend is set for April 13-14, and the first of six seven-day regular-season hunt periods begins April 17.

There were 51,036 permits available in Zone 2, and 34,452 were awarded. That leaves 16,584 leftovers, the most ever and enough that — for the first time — there will be some fourth-period tags available in our area.

All told, 1,035 fourth-week tags (period D) remain in Zone 2. There are also 7,541 in the fifth week (E) and 8,008 the sixth and final period (F). Depending on which period their draw tag is for, some local hunters who purchase leftovers will be able to be afield in three or four of the six periods.

Zone 2 bonus tags go on sale March 19 at 10 am. Any remaining can be purchased again beginning March 23, also at 10 am. The authorizations will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis at a limit of one per day per hunter.

The cost is $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. You must also purchase a spring turkey-hunting license and stamp privilege.

See when and where all the leftovers are at For a map, season dates, last year’s harvest numbers and more, visit

Fish and hunt

As if the ice conditions weren’t bad enough, another extended thaw ended with rain and gale winds Monday. The 10-day forecast shows below-freezing temperatures throughout, but there are no below-zero or even single-digit lows expected.

In addition, ongoing ice-breaking operations in Green Bay mean that even when the bay does finally get frosted over, thin ice and moving ice sheets will be likely in some areas.

For now — if you go at all — it’s best to stick to protected, nearshore areas in bays, harbors and marinas, or hire a guide.

Although the turkey and pheasant hunting seasons are over, Door County hunters have an extended bow and crossbow deer hunt through Jan. 31. Squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, fox and coyote hunting are also open. Bow and crossbow deer hunting ended Sunday in Kewaunee County.

Contest time

Entries are being accepted through Feb. 1 for the annual Great Waters photo contest and writing project. Top photos will be included in the DNR’s Office of Great Waters 2020 calendar.

There are four photo categories; also accepted are short essays, stories, poems and songs about the Great Lakes. Learn more at

• All fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students are eligible to participate in the DNR’s first Keep Wildlife Wild poster contest. The entry deadline is Feb. 22. Google “Keep Wildlife Wild 2019 poster design contest” for details.

Ethical hunters

Nominations are being accepted for the annual DNR Hunter Ethics Award. Nominees must be licensed Wisconsin-resident or nonresident hunters whose ethical actions took place during any 2018 hunting season.

Anyone can submit a nomination, which must contain the name, address and telephone number of the witness or witnesses to the behavior, or this individual must know what led to the nomination. Email nominations by Jan. 15 to Chief Warden Todd Schaller at [email protected].

Water levels

As of Jan. 4, Lake Michigan and Green Bay water levels were four inches higher than last year at this time, and 19 inches above the 100-year average.

Lake levels are up 49 inches since the all-time January low, set six years ago, but were still 14 inches below the record monthly high, set in 1987.

Free fishing

The DNR’s first Free Fishing Weekend of 2019 is set for Jan. 19-20. No fishing licenses or stamps will be required, but all other regulations and bag limits will apply.