Georgia turkey hunters are practicing their best turkey calls and patterning their shotguns as they get ready for the statewide turkey hunting season opening Saturday, Mar. 20, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
“Statewide reproduction in 2019 was slightly higher than average, which means we should have a fair number of two-year old birds in the woods,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “However, I don’t expect harvest to reach the levels it did last year, which was a record harvest for many areas of the state, particularly on public lands.”
What can hunters expect across state regions this spring? Harvest in the Ridge and Valley region of the state should remain high, as reproduction was strong in this area. The Blue Ridge Mountain region also saw continued increases in poults per hen, indicating promise of a good harvest. Unfortunately, the Piedmont region of the state, where many of our hunters focus their efforts, saw a drop in reproduction in 2019, indicating fewer adult birds in the woods. Conversely, reproduction in the Coastal Plain was slightly up, which hopefully is a good sign for hunters in the southern half of the state.
With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 20 through May 15 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 (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 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 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.
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.
“Hunters should know that each time they purchase a license or equipment used to turkey hunt, such as shotguns, ammunition and others, that they are part of this greater conservation effort for wildlife in Georgia,” said Rushton. “Through the Wildlife Restoration Program, a portion of the money spent comes back to states and is put back into on-the-ground efforts such as habitat management and species research and management.”
For more hunting information, visit georgiawildlife.com/hunting/hunter-resources.