Gobble. Cluck. Purr. Georgia turkey hunters are practicing their best turkey calls as they get ready for the statewide turkey hunting season opening Saturday, March 21, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“We saw an uptick in reproduction in 2018, so that could mean a better number of 2-year-old birds in the woods this year,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “We also had a higher than average jake harvest in 2019, nine percent of the total harvest, which typically means a better harvest the following spring.”
What can hunters expect across state regions this spring? Harvest in the Ridge and Valley region of the state could be up, as 2018 was a phenomenal reproductive year.
The Blue Ridge Mountain region also saw a jump in poults per hen, indicating promise of a good harvest. The other regions of the state, the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, had increases of varying levels, suggesting a fair to good harvest in these areas.
With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from March 21 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation - to harvest their bird(s).
Georgia Game Check
All turkey hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check.
Turkeys can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (www.georgiawildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app), which now works whether you have cell service or not, at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
App users, if you have not used the app since deer season or before, make sure you have the latest version. More information at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.
Hunters age 16 years or older (including those accompanying youth or others) will need a hunting license and a big game license, unless hunting on their own private land.
Get your license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, at a retail license vendor or by phone at 1-800-366-2661. With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.
Conservation of the Wild Turkey in GA
The restoration of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories.
Currently, the bird population hovers around 250,000-300,000 statewide, but as recently as 1973, the wild turkey population was as low as 17,000.
The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has donated more than $6,000,000 since 1985 for projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works in partnership with the Wildlife Resources Division and other land management agencies on habitat enhancement, hunter access, wild turkey research and education.
The NWTF has a vital initiative called “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt,” focused on habitat management, hunter access and hunter recruitment.
For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.