It’s the beginning of March and that means the spring turkey hunting season is just about here. Time to dust off the turkey calls, locate that decoy and find those #5 turkey loads before the end of the month gets here. Temperatures are already fairly warm, so we suspect there will be a lot of breeding activity before the season even starts. Just make sure you know when turkey season starts, and ends.
Hunters are reminded several regulation changes take effect for the 2012 season. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) closed spring turkey hunting in the following 15 East Texas counties in response to low populations and harvest numbers: Cherokee, Delta, Gregg, Hardin, Houston, Hunt, Liberty, Montgomery, Rains, Rusk, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Tyler and Walker.
Closing spring turkey seasons in these counties will enable biologists to reassess Eastern turkey restoration efforts in areas having suitable habitat, restock sites and provide brood stock protection. The agency’s goal is to reopen hunting once the Eastern turkey populations in the affected counties are capable of sustaining harvest.
Also effective for the 2012 season, TPWD is delaying spring Eastern turkey hunting in the remaining 28 counties having an open season by two weeks, to run from April 15-May 14. Biologists say the delay gives hens time to begin nesting prior to the season opening.
“Time will tell how dramatic of an impact the regulations will have on Eastern turkey populations, but we will almost guarantee that the majority of hens will be bred prior to the opening of the season, which should help to boost the population” said Hardin. “Harvest is not as critical the latter part of the season, and hens should be on the nest by the time the season starts.”
Also new this turkey hunting season, hunters in East Texas may harvest gobblers and bearded hens during the spring season in counties having a bag limit of four turkeys. Hunting is for gobblers only during the spring season in all other counties.
All harvested Eastern turkeys must be taken to a check station within 24 hours. To find the check station nearest you, contact a TPWD field office or call (800) 792-1112. Turkey hunting is always fun, but the spring turkey season is as good as it gets. Hope you run into some long beards!