Talking Turkey . . . It’s Spring & The Season Is Here! ‘Ye Olde Ed’s Favorite Time of Year Brings Challenge to the Woods!’

April 05, 2023

As the woods begin to ‘green up’ and hunters venture along the ridges listening for gobblers, the Spring Turkey Season is upon us. This was always ‘Ye Olde Editor’ Neil Richards favorite hunting season. He’d spend every early morning he could in the woods, listening, riding the ridge roads and visiting with fellow hunters. He found camaraderie among the hunters, and many friends along the way. The one thing he’d tell you is, “Enjoy it, there’s nothing like it!”
Missouri’s three week/two bird 2023 Spring Wild Turkey Season begins Monday, April 17th and continues through Sunday, May 7th. Conservation officials are predicting a below average harvest this Spring following poor production the past few years in most of the State.

Last year was the twenty-fifth year for the then considered experimental three week season with a good number of birds again harvested.

The 2023 season basically mirrors last year with two birds with visible beard allowed over a three week period (One in the first seven days, one a day for a total of two after that time).

Turkey biologists still believe a healthy flock easily sustains a third week of hunting.

The popular free MO Hunting app allows hunters to carry their turkey permits afield, notch permits after a turkey is harvested, and Telecheck their turkeys all from the touchscreen of their Apple or Android mobile device. (See Page 4 of the Spring Turkey Guide)

What’s New For 2023

Several managed hunts have been removed or modified. See page 16 in the 2023 Spring Turkey Guide.


Coyotes may not be chased, pursued or taken during daylight hours from April 1-16, 2023. During the regular spring turkey season, coyotes may be taken only from one-half hour before sunrise to 1 P.M., using legal spring turkey hunting methods by hunters holding an unfilled spring turkey hunting permit and a Resident Small Game Hunting Permit or a Nonresident Furbearer Hunting and Trapping Permit.

Before it can be transported by someone other than the taker, a turkey must be labeled with the date taken in addition to the taker’s name and address or Conservation Number, and Telecheck confirmation number.

Any member of the U.S. military currently assigned as a patient to a Warrior Transition Brigade, Warrior Transition Unit or a military medical center now may purchase Missouri resident permits regardless of where they live (with assignment orders).

There are several changes to conservation area regulations and managed turkey hunts. See 2023 Turkey Brochure available where permits are sold or online.

The Conservation Department’s new e-permits System lets hunters buy turkey permits online, print them at home, and have them in hand immediately or on your smart phone.

Turkey permits have months printed along one edge and dates along another. Immediately after harvest, hunters must void their permit by notching the month and day they shot their turkey. Hunters should follow online prompts when using a virtual tag on their phone or device.

Turkey permits no longer include a removable transportation tag. Instead, the permit itself will be the transportation tag.

The hunter and permit must remain with the bird with head and plumage intact until officially checked by TeleCheck by phone, online or the MO Hunting app. All hunters must use TeleCheck. Call 1-800-314-6828 between 6 A.M. and 10 P.M. If using a cell phone be sure your signal is clear, not breaking up, on day of kill or go online at You will be asked to provide the TeleCheck number on your permit, turkey type (gobbler, juvenile gobbler or bearded hen), spur length (adult gobblers only) less than 1 inch or over 1 inch or more, beard length (less than 6 inches or over 6 inches), and county of harvest. You will be given an eight digit confirmation number.

NOTE: There are no in-person check stations.

Most early listeners and scouters have reported a spotty turkey population this year with few nice gobblers heard and seen - Some areas better than others as usual, fairly good and generally across the forest ridges of our area - many on private lands as has been the case in recent years. Gobbling activity has been reported as just beginning or short and sweet due to the varied Spring weather.

In 2022 the Spring Wild Turkey harvest totaled 36,250 (Includes Youth Hunt)

In 2021 the Spring Wild Turkey harvest totaled 34,600 (Includes Youth Hunt; a decrease

In 2020 the Spring Wild Turkey harvest totaled 41,461 (Includes Youth Hunt)

In 2019 the Spring Wild Turkey harvest totaled 38,777 (Includes Youth Hunt).

In 2018 the Spring Wild Turkey harvest totaled 35,801 (Includes Youth Hunt).

In 2017 the Spring Wild Turkey harvest totaled 43,339 (Includes Youth Hunt).

In 2016 the Spring Wild Turkey harvest totaled 48,374 (Includes Youth Hunt).

In 2015 the Spring Wild Turkey Harvest totaled 48,462 (including Youth Hunt Totals).

In 2014 the Spring Wild Turkey Harvest totaled 43,273 (including Youth Hunt Totals).

In 2013 the Spring Wild Turkey Harvest totaled 42,220 (including Youth Hunt Totals).

In 2012 the Spring Wild Turkey Harvest totaled 44,766 (including Youth Hunt Totals).

Washington County’s 2022 total was 277; 2021 total was 327; 2020 total was 378; 2019 total was 357; 2018 total was 321; 2017 total was 480; 2016, 459; 2015, 411; 2014, 366; 2013, 404.

Spring green up is on schedule as cover is popping quickly for hunters . . . and the birds!

Turkey hunters can either be good, or lucky - as usual. This year the premium will again be more on good.

Rules and Regulations for the 2023 Spring Season include:

Turkeys: Seasons, Methods, Limits - Turkeys may be pursued, taken, killed, possessed, or transported only as herein permitted: A person possessing the prescribed turkey hunting permit may take not more than one (1) male turkey or turkey with visible beard from April 17th through April 23rd, 2023, or beginning April 24th not more than one (1) male turkey or turkey with visible beard per day with a two bird limit through May 7th, 2023. Such turkeys may be taken only by shotgun with shot no larger than No. 4; atlatls and crossbows, recurve bow or longbow or compound bow; hand-held string releasing devices, illuminated sights, scopes and quick-point sights are allowed. (Hunter may not use any sighting device that casts a beam of light on the game.) No thermal imaging or night vision equipment in use or possession. Without the use of dogs, bait, recorded calls or live decoys between one-half hour before sunrise and 1 P.M. CDT. Bait shall mean grain or other feed placed or scattered so as to constitute an attraction or enticement to turkeys. An area shall be considered baited for 10 days following the complete removal of the bait. (A hunter can be in violation even if they did not know an area was or is baited. It is illegal to place bait in a way that causes others to be in violation of the baiting rule.)

Any shotgun having a capacity of more than three (3) shells in magazine and chamber combined is prohibited.

Rifles and hand guns are prohibited.

Any hunter who kills or injures a turkey must make a reasonable effort to retrieve and include it in his or her season limit, but this does not authorize trespass.

It is a violation to wantonly leave, abandon or waste commonly edible portions of the game.

Persons using a turkey call to assist another hunter must be properly licensed (filled or unfilled turkey hunting permit).

Tagging and Checking: Anyone who kills a turkey must immediately notch the day and date on their paper permit or follow the screen prompts on the app to notch an e-permit.

The hunter and e-permit must remain with the turkey until it has been officially checked as outlined below.

Turkeys Must Be Checked: The bird must have head attached and plumage intact until officially checked.

Turkeys must be checked using TeleCheck. All hunters must use TeleCheck by phone or online. Call 1-800-314-6828 between 6 A.M. and 10 P.M., go online at or follow the screen prompts on the app. You will be asked to provide TeleCheck Permit number, turkey type, beard length, spur length and county of harvest. You will be given an eight digit confirmation number.

Note: Only the hunter who kills the game may possess or transport turkeys until they have been officially checked. After checking, turkey may be possessed and transported by anyone, but must be labeled with the full name and address or Conservation Number; date taken and Telecheck confirmation number of the taker.

Note: All landowner hunting permits are valid only on the land for which they are issued. You must purchase permits to hunt on land you do not own or lease and reside on.

Hunter Education

Certification Requirement

All hunters born on or after January 1, 1967, and hunting with a Resident or Nonresident Spring Turkey Hunting Permit must complete an approved hunter education program and display their card before they can purchase a firearms turkey hunting permit unless:

• they first purchase an Apprentice Hunter Authorization.

• they are ages 6 - 15 years and will be hunting with a qualified mentor.

• they have a developmental disability (See rule 3 CSR 10-5.205 of the Wildlife Code of Missouri.)

Hunters who are hunter-education certified do not have to show their card if certification can be verified online. Most hunters using the e-Permits System will have their hunter-education certification verified online.

Those who are not in the Conservation Department’s permit database will be alerted by the e-Permits System to mail, fax or email a copy of the front and back of their hunter-education card to the Conservation Department. After this information is verified and the hunter’s record is updated in the database, the hunter will not be required to submit his or her hunter-education card for an e-Permit again.

A person must be at least 11 years old to receive hunter-education certification. Persons hunting with a resident Landowner Spring Turkey Hunting Permit are exempt from the hunter-education requirement unless they were born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, and are mentoring a firearms hunter who is not hunter-education certified.

The Conservation Commission has ruled that Spring Turkey Season annually will be 21 days in length and begin on the third Monday in April.

To log in to MO Hunting, you’ll need your Conservation Number. This nine-digit number can be found on your Heritage Card, Conservation Permit Card, or any current or previous permit. For help locating your Conservation number, call 573-522-0107 during regular business hours or go to

Permits, available all across the county, are $17 for residents (16 years and older) and 6-15 years $8.50 non-resident 16 and older is now $224.00 and age 6-15 - $8.50. Non-resident land owner (own 75 acres in a continuous tract) is $165.00. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 1 P.M Central Daylight Savings Time.


The following are some basic rules for safe turkey hunting:

• Identify a turkey’s head and beard before aiming.

• Always positively identify your target and what it is before firing. Never shoot at sound or movement. Assume it is another hunter until you can clearly see the turkey’s head and beard.

• Wear hunter orange when walking through the woods.

• Use hunter orange to identify your hunting location.

• Wrap a bagged turkey or decoy in hunter orange when transporting.

• Dress defensively. Never wear red, white, blue or black while hunting turkey.

• Know the effective range of your gun.

• Be sure of your target and what lies beyond.

• Never follow the sound of a gobbling turkey or attempt to sneak up on turkeys. Always call turkeys to you.

• Sit against a large tree or other natural barrier to shield yourself from hunters approaching from the rear.

• Shout “STOP” when another hunter approaches. Don’t move, wave, whistle, or make turkey calls to get their attention.

• Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

• Always keep the safety on until you are ready to shoot.

• Always keep your finger outside the trigger until you are ready to shoot.


Be sure the target - remember during Spring hunting there were:

2 fatal, 6 non-fatal in 2014.

1 fatal, 3 non-fatal in 2015.

1 non-fatal in 2016.

2 non-fatal in 2017.

2 non-fatal in 2018.

There were no hunting incidents reported during the 2019 Spring season.

1 non-fatal in 2020.

1 non-fatal in 2021.

1 fatal, 1 non-fatal in 2022

BE SURE! Identify your target before you shoot!



According to the National Safety Council, hunting is a safe activity. In fact, hunting results in fewer injuries per 100,000 participants than do many other sports, including cycling, bowling, golf and tennis. However, you must always use good judgement and take responsibility for your actions.

If you are involved in a firearms-related accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance. Failure to do so is a Class A Misdemeanor.

There were two firearms-related hunting incidents reported during the 2022 Spring turkey season. Both were self-inflicted and one was fatal. The non-fatal incident occurred when the safety of a hunter’s shotgun malfunctioned and allowed the firearm to discharge, striking the hunter in the foot. The fatal incident occurred when a hunter’s shotgun discharged into their chest as they were crossing a fence.

Both incidents could have been averted had the muzzles of the firearms been pointed in safe directions.

It’s easy to become complacent and neglect the rules of firearm safety, but the consequences of doing so are far too significant.

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