Excellent First Week for Fall Turkey Harvest

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By the end of the first week of the Kentucky fall turkey shotgun season, hunters had already surpassed the harvest of the previous season by 1,000 birds. There is a second week of the season scheduled for December 4-10, which gives hunters an additional opportunity to take advantage of the Bluegrass State’s increasing turkey population. Early reports of reproduction indicate this spring’s hatch was one of the best on record throughout the commonwealth.

The fall shotgun turkey season limit was increased to two birds of either sex for 2004. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) Commission recently added a second turkey to the fall shotgun season permit, but did not increase the cost of the permit. The season was also expanded to give hunters four additional days to hunt, amounting to a full week in late October and a second full week in early December.

During the first segment of the season, hunters reported 3,255 turkeys taken, compared to 2,256 birds taken during the entire 2003 fall shotgun season. So far during the turkey archery season, 495 birds have been reported harvested with bow equipment. At the close of the 2003 archery turkey season, a total of 528 birds were reported, so it also appears archery hunters are finding more turkeys this year, too. The fall archery season extends into mid-January, 2005.

Those hunters who took the fall shotgun season limit of two turkeys during October are not eligible to hunt the December segment of the season. Hunters who took one, or had no luck in October, may take up to the two-bird limit during the December season. Both birds may not be taken on the same day, however.

According to harvest data posted on the KDFWR website (fw.ky.gov), at this point of the fall turkey season, of the total 3,771 turkeys taken, 2,327 have been females and 1,444 have been male birds. About 900 of the males were reported to be adult toms and the rest, called jakes, were young gobblers less than two-years old.

Hunters interested in giving fall shotgun turkey hunting a try in December need a hunting license and a fall firearm turkey permit. This permit allows the harvest of two birds. All turkeys taken in Kentucky must be reported by phone through the automated KDFWR telecheck system by midnight of the day the bird is taken. The phone call to report hunter harvest takes about five minutes and is toll-free. The number is 1-800-245-4263. At the end of the call, hunter’s receive a confirmation number which must be recorded on the back of the permit or hunting license and retained throughout the turkey hunting season as proof of complying with the check-in requirement.

The blanks on the back of permits and licenses labeled for the date, county, species and sex must be filled in by the hunter before moving the bird from where it was taken. The confirmation number given when calling to check in the bird can be written on the back of the license or permit when the call is made.

Placing a carcass tag on a harvested turkey is not required unless the bird leaves the hunter’s possession prior to being processed, or given to a taxidermist for mounting. Hunter’s who give their bird to anyone else for any reason must attach a self-made tag to the carcass that indicates his or her name, phone number and the telecheck confirmation number received when the bird is reported. This requirement helps assure harvested birds are property reported, and identifies to whom the harvested bird belongs.

Lastly, hunters are reminded that it is not legal to take more game than the daily or season bag limit allows, or to claim or check in game that the hunter did not take himself.

For complete information on fall turkey hunting seasons in Kentucky, or other types of hunting, pick up a copy of the 2004 Kentucky Fall Hunting and Trapping Guide wherever licenses are sold, go on-line at fw.ky.gov, or call 1-800-858-1549 weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.