Turkey season opens March 24

Sat, 03/10/2007 - 3:33pm
By: The Citizen

Calling all gobblers: Statewide turkey hunting season opens this month

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 9, 2007) - Turkey hunters across the state are dusting off their calls in preparation for another exciting turkey season. Opening day is Saturday, March 24th and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) anticipates another enjoyable season.

According to WRD Wild Turkey Project Coordinator Chris Baumann, Georgia’s current turkey population is estimated at 350,000 birds. Because the population has remained fairly stable over the past few years, Baumann anticipates an average hunting season for 2007.

“This year will likely be another good hunting season as we are still getting reports of abundant turkeys from many areas of the state. In areas where all the wild turkey habitat needs are being provided, the populations are still very strong,” says Baumann.

Statistics from the 2006 season harvest summary indicate that an estimated 56,939 hunters bagged some 35,789 turkeys last year. The bird to hunter ratio for 2006 — .63 birds per hunter — was up by 12.5 percent from 2005.

While success rates remain variable from season to season, one major contributing factor continues to be the weather.

“In 2005 our harvest estimates reflected the fact that a lot of bad weather occurred on the weekends, when most of our hunters could get out and hunt,” points out Baumann. “In 2006, the weather cooperated and our hunters had much better success. If the weather cooperates this year, hunters should continue to have good success rates.”

Georgia turkey hunters, privileged with one of the longest turkey seasons nationwide, have nearly 2 months to bag themselves a bird or two, or maybe even three. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from March 24 through May 15 to harvest their bird(s). Because most hunters pursue wild turkeys on private lands (69.6 percent according to recent WRD surveys), WRD reminds hunters to always obtain landowner permission before hunting.

The State’s wildlife management areas (WMAs) also offer excellent turkey hunting opportunities. Visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com for more information on WMA hunting locations and opportunities.

Both a valid hunting license and a big game license are required to legally hunt wild turkey. For hunting on WMAs, a special WMA license is also required. Wild turkey can be legally hunted with shotguns loaded with No. 2 or smaller shot, any muzzleloading firearm, longbow, crossbow or compound bow.

The comeback of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories. Although the bird population currently hovers around 350,000 statewide, as recently as 1973, the wild turkey population was as low as 17,000. Intensive restoration efforts, such as the re-stocking of wild birds and increased emphasis on biologically sound hunting seasons, have helped re-establish turkeys in suitable habitat in every county. This resurgence is due to the efforts of private landowners, hunters and conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has donated more than $3 million since 1985, and over $290,000 during the past year, on projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works cooperatively in partnership with WRD and other land management agencies to put such projects on the ground. There currently exist 99 state chapters of the NWTF with membership totals more than 13,000.

For more information regarding turkey hunting opportunities or regulations in Georgia, visit the WRD website at www.gohuntgeorgia.com.


Turkey hunters encouraged to put safety first

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 9, 2007) - Successful hunting trips require a combination of skill, patience and most importantly, preparation. As turkey season rapidly approaches, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) is concentrating on the preparation aspect, encouraging hunters to brush up on important turkey hunting safety tips before hitting the woods.

In preparation for the upcoming season, WRD Hunter Education Coordinator Capt. James Bell offers some sound instruction. “Hunters should always be sure to identify their target before pulling the trigger and should never shoot at sound or movement,” advises Bell. “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 season opens on Saturday, March 24th:

· 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, but a hunter in motion greatly increases his/her chances of being mistaken for game.

· Be careful using a turkey call. The sound and motion may attract other hunters. Do not move, wave or make turkey-like sounds to alert another hunter to your presence. Instead, yell in a loud voice so other hunters know you are in the area.

· 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.

· Hunters should always wear blaze orange when moving to and from their vehicle and hunting site. When moving between hunting sites, hunters should wear blaze orange on their upper bodies to lessen chances of being mistaken for game.

Wild 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 (WMA), hunters should also possess a WMA license. Sportsmen and women should always obtain permission from the landowner before hunting on private land. Only male turkeys may be harvested and the season bag limit is three gobblers per hunter.

For additional turkey hunting information or turkey hunting safety tips, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com , contact the nearest WRD Law Enforcement Office or call (770) 784-3068.

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