Springtime means turkey hunting in Georgia.
The season opens next Saturday, March 23.
Here are a few things you might want to know if you plan to bag a bird.
Bass Pro Shops John Martin has seen flocks of shoppers rushing in to gather up gear for turkey season.
"I began turkey hunting about 13 or 14," Martin said.
In fact, when the hunting veteran is behind the counter, he's ready to chirp on a moments notice. He keeps the caller in his cheek. You never know when folks may have a question and need a quick demonstration.
"A lot of people want to know how they work and how they sound, so a lot of us here will have the turkey calls in our mouths and just play with the customers sometimes," Martin admitted.
Well, if you consider the woods a playground, state rangers figure we've got more than 335,000 turkeys for the taking.
"Turkey hunting in Georgia is excellent. I've been to three or four different states turkey hunting, and to me the population that we have and the job that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has done through expansion of the turkey population in Georgia, it's been a wonderful job and the outcome has been a great many many birds in Georgia," Martin said with a smile.
Martin has made plans to take next Saturday off. He says it's a tradition at this time of year.
And he hopes to harvest the three-gobbler limit over the course of the season which ends mid-May.
"Probably the most wonderful things about turkey hunting is hearing the woods come alive. The birds start chirping. Go in there, hoot like an owl, and try to strike a bird on his roost and work him in," Martin said.
The following article is from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters are eagerly anticipating opening day of the Georgia turkey hunting season coming on Sat., Mar. 24 and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) anticipates that the 2012 season should be a good one.
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 March 24 through May 15 to harvest their bird(s).
A 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 or Public Fishing Area. In addition, a valid hunting license and a big game license are required to legally hunt wild turkey. Legal firearms and archery equipment for hunting wild turkey are shotguns, loaded with No. 2 or smaller shot, any muzzleloading firearm, longbow, crossbow or compound bow.
WMA Hunting Opportunities
For those looking to hunt turkey on public land, Georgia's Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) offer excellent opportunities. Through the WMA system, resident hunters have access to nearly one million acres of prime hunting land for just $19 a year. Detailed below are some of the WMAs with the highest 2011 turkey hunting season success rates in the state:
Northwest: Berry College and Paulding Forest WMAs
Northeast: Lake Russell and Dawson Forest WMAs
West Central: Blanton Creek and Rum Creek WMAs
East Central: Di-Lane and Tuckahoe WMAs
Southeast: Penholoway and Sansavilla WMAs
Middle: Big Hammock and Horse Creek WMAs
Southwest: River Creek and Chickasawhatchee WMAs
Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors atwww.georgiawildlife.com/recreational-licenses or buy it 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. Although the bird population currently hovers around 335,000 statewide, 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 $3,434,478 since 1985 on projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works cooperatively in partnership with the Wildlife Resources Division and other land management agencies with the focus on habitat enhancement, hunter access, wild turkey research and education. There currently are 96 local Georgia chapters of the NWTF with membership totals of more than 17,000.
For more information regarding wild turkey and hunting opportunities, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com .