I just received the numbers and analysis provided by Illinois DNR Turkey Program Manager Paul Shelton. Here is his report...
Youth Turkey Hunt: The 2010 Illinois Spring Youth Wild Turkey Season closed with a preliminary harvest total of 737, compared with a harvest total of 617 in 2009. The South Zone harvest this spring was 297, compared with 254 last year. The North Zone harvest was 440 birds, compared with 363 wild turkeys taken by hunters in the North Zone in 2009. The 2010 Spring Youth Wild Turkey Hunt was conducted on Mar. 27-28 in the South Zone and April 3-4 in the North Zone.
Illinois (and the Midwest in general) has had a number of years of substandard reproduction. The 2009 Brood Surveys indicated low production for the third straight year. Our prior 10-year mean (1999-2008) "poults/hen index" was at 2.71; and the 2009 index was 2.08 (the same as in 2008).
Administrative regions higher than the statewide average were Region 2, East-central Illinois (2.44), Region 4, West-central Illinois (2.18), and Region 5, Southern Illinois (2.31). However, none were higher than the 10-year mean.
How will this translate into hunting success? We're going to be a little shorter than we would like to be in younger adult birds, which tend to be easier to call in than the more experienced adults. However, Illinois turkey populations have continued to do very well in spite of limited reproduction, and we don't expect to see a significant change in harvest compared to the past few years.