More than 135,000 hunters take to the woods each year in Wisconsin to pursue the wild turkey, many for the first time.
To help preserve these memories, the Department of Natural Resources will provide first-time successful turkey hunters with a free, personalized certificate if the hunters fill out an electronic form and, if they want, submit a photo of themselves with their turkey.
"It's our little way of saying congratulations to all of the first-time successful turkey hunters — we wish them all many more years of successful hunting," says Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist.
The reintroduction of the wild turkey is one of Wisconsin's greatest wildlife success stories. For many hunters, their first turkey harvest provides one of their most memorable hunting experiences, Walter says.
"I cherish the time I've spent taking my children on their first turkey hunts and certainly all hunters know how special that first turkey harvest is," he says. "We hope that providing this certificate will help preserve those great memories for the newest members of Wisconsin's turkey hunting community."
The turkey certificate program begins with the 2014 spring season (including learn to hunt turkey events and the two-day youth hunt) and continues through the fall hunt.
Hunters are asked to fill out information about when and where the turkey was harvested, the bird's weight, spur length and more. This information will be displayed on the individually customized certificate. It can also include a picture of the hunter. Certificates will be sent electronically to the successful hunter within a few weeks.
"We hope the certificates will be a great memento that can be displayed proudly and help preserve memories throughout a long hunting career," said Walter.
This certificate program first originated for first-time deer hunters and may be expanded in the future to include other game species. First-time hunters that successfully harvest a turkey can submit their information and a picture of their turkey by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching keyword "turkey."
For more information, visit the DNR web site at dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "turkey."