By Taylor Bishop, Ozarks News Journal

Missourians should have plenty of turkey to go around for Thanksgiving this year considering an increase in wild turkey population.

Francis Skalicky  is a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“We’re seeing a higher number of turkeys this year primarily because we had a really good hatch this spring. The main factor in whether you have a good hatch or bad hatch is weather. If you have a cold, rainy, drizzly spell in late May, early June that could severely impact the hatch negatively,” said Skalicky.

Beginning in the early 2000’s, several parts of the state of saw poor turkey production.

“It’s a positive thing, we have big hunting success. Turkeys don’t cause a lot of problems but the higher the population we have, the more hunting success we have. And turkey season is the second most popular hunting season in Missouri next to deer season.” Skalicky said.

According to the National Wild Turkey Foundation, Missouri ranks number one in the nation on the list of top ten places to hunt turkey.

“Missouri has one of the higher turkey populations in the country and because of that people do come from other states to hunt turkey in Missouri. Usually in the spring there is over 40 thousand birds that are killed in a youth season and a regular firearm and archery season. So basically word about good turkey hunting in Missouri has gotten around and yes people do come from other places in the country to Missouri to hunt turkeys,” said Skalicky.

But bagging the birds for thanksgiving dinner isn’t the only reason turkey is important to the Show-Me state.

“Turkey season also has a big economic impact on Missouri. It’s measured in the millions based on hotel revenues and gas bought to get to turkey hunting spots. Meals bought by turkey hunters who travel. In addition to ammunition and permits and stuff like that. So more turkeys is a good thing for Missouri,” said Skalicky.

According to an annual survey done by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the turkey population has only increased slightly in the past year but that increase has steadily continued for last five to ten years.