JEFFERSON CITY Hunters bagged 28,876 gobblers during the first seven days of Missouri^s three-week spring turkey season. That figure isn^t a record, but it compares favorably with recent years.
Wet, windy weather kept the 2001 opening day harvest 884 birds below last year^s record of 9,103 birds. The harvest continued to lag behind last year^s pace throughout the first week of the season, finishing 1,564 short of the 2000 figure.
Franklin County led the state with 647 birds checked the first week. Texas County was close behind with 592 birds checked, followed by Macon County with 555.
Regional totals were: northeast, 5,010; west-central, 4,160; northwest, 4,114; east-central, 3,423; central, 3,247; southwest, 2,576; southeast, 2,568; Ozark, 2,423; Kansas City, 695 and St. Louis, 660. Northwest Missouri^s first-week total was up 137, and central region^s first-week bag was up 21 from 2000. All other regional totals were down slightly.
The Missouri Department of Conservation reported no fatal turkey hunting accidents during the first week of turkey season. It reported seven nonfatal accidents.
In spite of being down from last year, the 2001 first-week harvest still was the second largest in Missouri history. Before last year, the largest number of gobblers bagged in the first week of turkey hunting was 26,537 in 1994. Hunters checked 24,693 turkeys in the first week of hunting in 1995, 24,393 in 1996, 21,539 in 1997, 26,268 in 1998 and 25,294 in 1999.
Conservation Department officials say they expect this year^s harvest to be in the neighborhood of 52,000 gobblers.