Turkey hunting season will begin on Saturday, March 23, in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division expects that the 2013 season should be a good one.
“Hunters will hear some vocal 2-year-old birds in the piedmont, ridge and valley, and blue ridge regions of the state thanks to good production in 2011. Coastal plains hunters may need to work a little harder to call in some seasoned gobblers as birds were not as productive in this area in previous years,” said Kevin Lowrey, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “Overall, statewide reproduction declined by 30 percent last year and while hunters won’t feel the effects this year, it may be noticed in 2014.”
Georgia’s current turkey population is estimated at 335,000 birds and turkey hunters in this state are privileged with one of the longest turkey seasons nationwide. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 23 through May 15, 2013 to harvest their bird(s). With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to always obtain landowner permission before hunting.
Georgia offers excellent turkey hunting on several wildlife management areas. Through the WMA system, resident hunters have access to nearly one million acres of prime hunting land for just $19 a year. Detailed below are some of the WMAs with the highest 2012 turkey hunting season success rates in the state:
- Northwest: Berry College and Paulding Forest WMAs
- Northeast: Lake Russell and Dawson Forest WMAs
- West Central: Clybel and Rum Creek WMAs
- East Central: Di-Lane and Tuckahoe WMAs
- Southeast: Griffin Ridge and Sansavilla WMAs
- Middle: Moody Forest and Horse Creek WMAs
- Southwest: River Creek and Chickasawhatchee WMAs
Complete 2012 WMA harvest results can be viewed here: www.georgiawildlife.com/Hunting/QuotaSummaries
A WMA license is required for any person 16 years or older who does not possess a valid honorary, sportsman or lifetime license when hunting wild turkey on a WMA or public fishing area. In addition, a valid hunting license and a big game license are required to legally hunt wild turkey. Legal firearms and archery equipment for hunting wild turkey are shotguns (loaded with No. 2 or smaller shot), any muzzleloading firearm, longbow, crossbow or compound bow.
Buy a license 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.
The restoration of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories. Although the bird population currently hovers around 335,000 statewide, as recently as 1973, the wild turkey population was as low as 17,000. Intensive restoration efforts, such as the restocking of wild birds and establishment of biologically sound hunting seasons facilitated the recovery of wild turkeys in every county. This successful effort resulted from cooperative partnerships between private landowners, hunters, conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Wildlife Resources Division.
The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has donated more than $3,434,478 since 1985 on projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works cooperatively in partnership with the Wildlife Resources Division and other land management agencies with the focus on habitat enhancement, hunter access, wild turkey research and education. The NWTF has an exciting new initiative called “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt” focused on habitat management, hunter access and hunter recruitment.
For more information regarding wild turkey and hunting opportunities, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com .
As turkey season approaches, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division encourages hunters to review important turkey hunting safety tips before hitting the woods.
“Hunters should be 110 percent certain of their target AND what is in front of and beyond it before pulling the trigger and should never shoot at sound or movement,” advises Walter Lane, hunter development program manager for the Wildlife Resources Division. “Turkey hunters have to utilize their firearms safety knowledge and remember ways to keep themselves and others safe while in the woods.”
Hunters are encouraged to review the following turkey hunting season safety precautions before the 2013 season opens on Saturday:
- 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, conceal 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. Only male turkeys may be harvested, and the season bag limit is three gobblers per hunter.
For additional hunting information, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com/hunting .