SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. – Gobble. Cluck. Purr. Music to the ears of all the eager turkey hunters ready for the season to open on Saturday, Mar. 24, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division expects that the 2018 season will be better than 2017.
“Reproduction in 2016 was the best we have seen since 2011, so that should mean a good supply of vocal 2-year old gobblers across much of the state in 2018,” says Kevin Lowrey, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator.
With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 24 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s). With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.
What should hunters expect this spring? The Blue Ridge, Piedmont and Upper Coastal Plain should have the best success based on 2016 reproduction information. The Lower Coastal Plain had two good years of reproduction in 2015 and 2016, and despite declines in reproduction in 2017, they should have a great 2018 season. The Ridge and Valley is very stable and hunters will not seem much change in this area compared to recent years.
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. 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.
Conservation of the Wild Turkey in Georgia
The restoration of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories. Currently, the bird population hovers around 300,000 statewide, but 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 $3,800,000 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 Lowrey. “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 www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations.