Tennessee’s 2012 spring hunting season for wild turkeys begins with the Young Sportsman Hunt, March 24-25 while the statewide season runs from March 31 through May 13.
The 2011 spring season, followed by the fall season, were the third highest harvests on record in the state. In 2011, Tennessee hunters harvested more than 34,000 birds during the spring hunt and more than 2,600 in the fall.
The 2011 August brood results are holding steady compared to recent years, according to Chris Hunter, Wild Turkey Program Coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
“Things seem to be going well with the Tennessee turkey flock,” said Hunter. “Looking ahead, there is some concern for the Mississippi River area population for the 2012 season because of the flooding during the spring of 2010 and 2011. Although this is true, we are very optimistic about the overall state turkey population as a whole.
Hunter also emphasized that Tennessee hunters should not be overly concerned about breaking harvest records year after year.
“We are now trying to manage a statewide stable turkey population,” he said. “We expect the overall harvest to be fairly stable from year to year but a long trend of stability is what is important to biologists and hunters alike.”
One change this year is that there is no restriction on shotgun gauges. Shotguns using ammunition with No. 4 shot or smaller is legal hunting equipment this spring. There is no restriction on the number of rounds in the magazine. Longbows, recurve bows, crossbows and other bows drawn or held by a mechanical device are legal.
The Young Sportsman Hunt will give the youngsters the first opportunity. Youth hunters ages 6-16 are allowed to harvest one bearded turkey which counts toward statewide bag limit unless taken on a Wildlife Management Area where turkeys are designated as bonus birds. Multiple youths may be accompanied by a nonhunting adult, 21 or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device. The adult is not required to have a license.
The hunting hours are 30 minutes before legal sunrise to legal sunset (unless otherwise listed).
During the statewide season, one bearded turkey may be taken per day not to exceed four per season. Turkeys taken on all quota hunts and specially designated WMAs are bonus turkeys. Most WMAs are open with statewide seasons and bag limits. However, some have restricted dates or quota hunts. (Check the WMA section of the 2011 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide for specific dates and regulations).
The 2011 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide is available at all license agents, TWRA regional offices in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, and Morristown or on the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org