• 77°

Talkin’ Turkey: Georgia turkey hunting season in full swing

From STAFF REPORTS

With turkey hunting season having kicked off in Georgia on March 26, many hunters are eager for the chance to bag a big one.
In a press release, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (GDNR) states that the 2016 season should be a fair one.
“Perspective is important because Georgia is still in the top six states in terms of eastern wild turkey harvest and population, even while we have had some declines in reproduction and the overall turkey population,” says Kevin Lowrey, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator in the press release. “Hunters heading to the woods need to remember that there is a new requirement this year to have a harvest record and that they will need to report their harvest through Georgia Game Check.”
With a generous bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from March 26 through May 15 – one of the most liberal turkey seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).  With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to always obtain landowner permission before hunting.
What should hunters expect this spring? The Lower Coastal Plain and Ridge and Valley will have an above average season this year and next year, due to better reproduction levels than other parts of the state.  While other regions saw some reproduction improvement in 2015, the lower cycle in 2014 may mean fewer two-year old gobblers, so hunters likely will be pursuing older birds, which may raise the challenge level.
The GDNR encourages all hunters to review important turkey hunting safety tips before heading out into the field.
• Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing while turkey hunting. Red is the color most hunters look for when distinguishing a gobbler’s head from a hen’s blue-colored head, but at times it may appear white or blue. Male turkey feathers covering most of the body are black in appearance. Camouflage should be used to cover everything, including the hunter’s face, hands and firearm.
• Select a calling position that provides at least a shoulder-width background, such as the base of a tree. Be sure that at least a 180-degree range is visible.
• Do not stalk a gobbling turkey. Due to their keen eyesight and hearing, the chances of getting close are slim to none.
• When using a turkey call, the sound and motion may attract the interest of other hunters. Do not move, wave or make turkey-like sounds to alert another hunter to your presence. Instead, identify yourself in a loud voice.
• Be careful when carrying a harvested turkey from the woods. Do not allow the wings to hang loosely or the head to be displayed in such a way that another hunter may think it is a live bird. If possible, cover the turkey in a blaze orange garment or other material.
• Although it’s not required, it is suggested that hunters wear blaze orange when moving between a vehicle and a hunting site. When moving between hunting sites, hunters should wear blaze orange on their upper bodies to facilitate their identification by other hunters.
• Turkey hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a big game license to legally hunt turkeys in Georgia. If hunting on a wildlife management area, hunters must also possess a WMA license. Sportsmen and women must always obtain permission from a landowner before hunting on private land.
New this year: All turkey hunters, including those under 16 years of age, landowners, honorary, lifetime, and sportsman license holders, must obtain a free harvest record each season. Before moving a harvested turkey, hunters are required to immediately enter the date and county on the harvest record, and within 72 hours, must complete the reporting process through Georgia Game Check.
Only male turkeys may be harvested, and the season bag limit is three gobblers per hunter. Licenses can be purchased online. Find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.
For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.