Wild Turkey Season Opens April 10

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Sportsmen all over the state are selecting their camouflage, honing their calls and staking out the wild turkey’s strutting grounds for the spring wild turkey season that opens this month.

All North Carolina counties, except Wilson, are included in the 2004 spring wild turkey season, which opens April 10 and ends May 8. Wilson County will open for the 2005 spring turkey season.

The bag limit for this gobbler-only season is two birds. Hunters who harvested a turkey during the winter season in January can take only one gobbler during the spring season. It is unlawful to use dogs, pistols, rifles or muzzeloading rifles during the spring season. Taking turkeys over bait is also illegal.

An unusually wet spring last year reduced the survival rate of chicks, therefore the jake (juvenile) segment of the population will be smaller than in past years.

This doesn’t mean turkey hunters won’t bag their birds, however.

“Since two-year-old gobblers make up the bulk of the spring harvest, I still expect a fairly good season,” said Mike Seamster, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s upland game bird biologist.

Hunters are required to report their turkey harvests to the Commission using a toll-free number 1-800-I GOT ONE (1-800-446-8663) or the Commission’s Web site, www.ncwildlife.org [Click here to report your kill online]. The third reporting option, visiting a wildlife cooperator agent in person, has been discontinued for wild turkey harvests in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

During the spring 2003 season, hunters harvested 9,862 gobblers – the largest harvest ever recorded by the Commission. Biologists attribute these high numbers to a healthy wild turkey population and active interest in the sport.

“We’ve spent 30 years restoring the turkey in North Carolina and it’s been a great success. We have roughly 130,000 turkeys in the state and I don’t believe we have reached this animal’s biological capacity yet,” said Seamster.