SOCIAL CIRCLE — Turkey hunters across the state are dusting off their calls in preparation for the upcoming turkey season. Opening day is Saturday March 21, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division anticipates another enjoyable season.
The 2009 season should be respectable, and harvest levels should be similar in comparison with past years’ harvests.
Statistics from the 2008 season harvest summary indicate that an estimated 49,237 resident Georgia hunters bagged 24,297 turkeys last year. The bird to hunter ratio (harvest rate) for 2008 was .49 birds per hunter - the same as in 2007.
According to Lowrey, Georgia’s current turkey population is estimated at 300,000 birds.
Georgia turkey hunters are privileged with one of the longest turkey seasons nationwide. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 21 through May 15 to harvest their bird(s).
Because most hunters pursue wild turkeys on private lands, the Wildlife Resources Division reminds hunters to always obtain landowner permission before hunting.
Georgia’s Wildlife Management Areas offer excellent turkey hunting opportunities. Through the WMA system, resident hunters have access to nearly one million acres of prime hunting land for just $19 a year.
Success rates and total harvest numbers from 2008 may help indicate which WMAs hunters should target this year.
In the northwest, Pine Log WMA and Berry College WMA reported the highest harvest rates. In the northeast, Warwoman WMA and Swallow Creek WMA had the highest success rates. In west central Georgia, hunters should try Blanton Creek WMA and Rum Creek WMA. In east central Georgia, Di-Lane Plantation WMA and Yuchi WMA reported high harvest rates. In the southeast, hunters should visit Dixon Memorial WMA and Griffin Ridge WMA.
A special 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, Public Fishing Area or State Park.