SOCIAL CIRCLE — Turkey hunters across the state are practicing their yelps and clucks in preparation for the upcoming turkey season. Opening day is Saturday, March 20, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division anticipates that the 2010 season should be good, and harvest levels should be similar to the past several years.
"There should be many vocal 2-year-old gobblers available for harvest this year thanks to the high reproduction rate in the summer of 2008," said Kevin Lowrey, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator.
Statistics from the 2009 season harvest summary indicate that an estimated 56,113 resident Georgia hunters bagged 27,323 turkeys last year. The bird-to-hunter ratio (harvest rate) for 2009 was .49 birds per hunter — the same as in 2007 and 2008.
According to Lowrey, Georgia’s current turkey population is estimated at 300,000 birds.
Georgia turkey hunters have one of the longest turkey seasons nationwide. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from March 20 until May 15 to harvest their birds.
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 turkey hunting opportunities. Through the WMA system, resident hunters have access to nearly 1 million acres of prime hunting land for $19 a year. Success rates and total harvest numbers from 2009 may help indicate which WMAs hunters should target this year.
A special WMA license is required for anyone 16 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. In addition, both a valid hunting license and a big game license are required to legally hunt wild turkey.
Wild turkey legally can be hunted with shotguns, loaded with No. 2 or smaller shot, any muzzleloading firearm, longbow, crossbow or compound bow.