2019 Statewide Turkey Hunting Season Opens March 23…in Georgia

 

  • Georgia turkey hunters are ready for the season to open on Saturday, Mar. 23.
Georgia spring turkey strutting and purring. Courtesy Georgia DNR

The 2019 turkey hunting season should be a fair season, similar to 2018, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“Reproduction in 2017 was lower than the four-year average, so that could mean a lower than usual supply of 2 year-old gobblers across much of the state in 2019,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “However, that lower average comes between two better years, so hopefully other age classes will remain plentiful.”

With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 23 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).

What should hunters expect this spring? The Ridge and Valley, Piedmont and Lower Coastal Plain should have the best success based on 2017 reproduction information. The Blue Ridge region had a poor 2017 reproductive season, but saw a significant jump in 2018, so there may be a lot of young birds in the woods. The Upper Coastal Plain saw reproduction below their five-year average for the past two years, so numbers in that part of the state may be down.

Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek-Little River WMA Hunters, take note! The 2019 turkey season will run April 6-May 15 on these properties. This is two weeks later than the statewide opening date. This difference is due to ongoing research between the University of Georgia and WRD, who are investigating the timing of hunting pressure and its effects on gobbler behavior and reproductive success. Through this research, biologists and others hope to gain insight to the reasons for an apparent population decline in order to help improve turkey populations and hunter success at Cedar Creek WMA and statewide.

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.

For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.

 

Share the Outdoors with a Youth Turkey Hunt

Steve Schicker, host of Forever Wild Outdoor Adrenaline Adventures that appears on The Sportsman’s Channel, and 5-Time New York State turkey calling champion explains what kids need to do to bag that first bird during youth hunting weekend.

New York’s spring youth turkey hunt is just around the corner, set for April 23-24, 2016.  This is a perfect opportunity to give junior nimrods the opportunity to have the outdoor stage all to themselves – along with an adult mentor, of course.  All the young hunter needs is a Junior Hunting license and a turkey permit.  The accompanying adult must also be a current hunting license and turkey permit holder.

There are some ground rules, as there should be.  The adult mentor can assist in the hunt by calling, but they can carry a firearm, crossbow or bow (or attempt to kill a bird during the youth hunt).  We mentioned crossbows.  Junior hunters must be at least 14 years of age if they wanted to try that challenge.  The reason? Crossbows are not classified as archery equipment in the Empire State.  Crazy!

Junior hunters can harvest one bearded bird during the youth hunt weekend.  This would become part of the two-bird bag allowed during the May 1-31 spring season if they are successful early.  A second bird can be harvested starting May 1.  There isn’t a better way to “Share the Outdoors” than to get a kid out turkey hunting!

According to Steve Schicker, host of Forever Wild Outdoor Adrenaline Adventures that appears on The Sportsman’s Channel, now is when you want to be scouting these birds for the youth turkey hunt weekend or opening day for the regular season.

“I like to drive around and glass the fields,” said Schicker.  Locating the birds should be first on your list.  “Whatever you do, don’t call these birds before the season opens,” emphasized Schicker, a five-time New York State Turkey Calling Champion.  “Try to identify where the birds are roosting and then prepare accordingly.”

Once the hunt is underway, though, the emphasis is placed on safety.  Since we are coming off a year when accidents in the field had no fatalities, it’s important to keep that record going.  Hunters are outfitted entirely in camouflage clothing, so there are certain things you can do to make things safer on the whole.  Some of the other things that Schicker pointed out were:

1) Find a big tree to use as a backdrop and to lean against – larger than your shoulders;

2) Don’t stalk what you think is a bird. It could be another hunter;

3) Never where red, white or blue;

4) Never shoot at sound or movement, always identifying your target before you pull the trigger;

5) Always look beyond your intended target;

6) When another hunter moves into your area, speak up loud and clearly. Don’t wave or move;

The Mosquito Repeller in Realtree Xtra Green™ camo is convenient to carry and is suited for hunting use.

When it comes to the actual hunt, Schicker suggested to try and do some things a little differently if you are hunting on public land or areas that receive a lot of pressure.  “You don’t have to actually call to make a difference if you are trying to pull a bird in.  Try scratching the leaves or the ground to make it appear that there’s another bird there.  You can also sound like a bird coming down out of the roost first thing in the morning, too. Figure out what the birds want on any given day.”

On a personal note, there’s one thing I would encourage every turkey hunter to purchase before heading out in the forests and fields.  One of the most valuable tools in my turkey hunting arsenal is my Thermacell Repeller.  It’s a perfect defense against unwanted guests like mosquitos and makes things more comfortable when you are outdoors in potentially adverse situations.  If you have a new hunter with you, it’s a great way to make sure that insects won’t keep them away from a second hunt.  Two new products include Max Life Insect Repellent pads that last up to 12 hours and a tree hanger that can help to give you maximum coverage when in the woods.  Check out www.thermacell.com for details. Good luck, stay safe out there and take a kid out hunting!