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Turkey hunting season opens March 23 in Georgia

Published 5:08am Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Springtime is noisy! The clucking, the strutting, the yelping . . . and that’s just the hunters preparing for the opening of turkey hunting season in Georgia. The highly anticipated day is Saturday, Mar. 23 and 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,” says 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 March 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.

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,” said 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, March 23:

• 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.

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