This turkey is one of many harvested this season on Dawson Forest WMA.

Report by: Kevin Lowrey, Wildlife Resources Division Senior Biologist

The 2012 turkey season is well underway and saw a fast start in Georgia. Many regions are reporting outstanding turkey hunting, with hunters seeing, hearing and harvesting plenty of gobblers, particularly in the Piedmont, Ridge and Valley, and Blue Ridge areas.  Berry College WMA (Ridge and Valley area) and Dawson Forest WMA (Upper Piedmont area) are on pace to break all time harvest records, while hunting in the Upper and Lower Coastal Plain has generally been described as decent. Increased foliage due to the early green up has made gobblers difficult to hear in parts of the coastal plains. Also, the mild winter and 90 degree opening week days in these regions made snakes and mosquitoes more active, which have kept some hunters out of the woods. Additionally, the drought in the coastal plain has forced some turkeys into inaccessible creek drainages, further slowing success. There are reports of a good amount of turkeys being seen and heard in the coastal plain, but that has not been represented by the harvest.

With the season a little more than half complete, where should you go hunt now? Below, “Table 1” shows the top two producing WMAs in each region this spring.  While these areas will likely continue to produce some turkeys for the remainder of the season, there may be better choices.   After speaking with several GA DNR biologists about their strategy for late season success they were nearly unanimous in the idea of looking for less pressured areas.  For example: 1.) Areas with less vehicle access, 2.) Bowhunting only areas, 3.) Areas that were quota early in the season and are now general open hunts the remainder of the season and 4.) Small overlooked areas.  These are the types of areas where a late season hunter, who puts in the time, can have great success. “Table 2” has a list of WMAs with some late season potential in each region.

Now is the time to get after wild turkeys. Most hunters have given up for the year so there is less competition. Hens are nesting, gobblers are lonely, and with spring in full bloom it’s a great time to be in the woods.  Late season hunting does come with challenges. Many turkeys that have been called to become a little call shy, so vary your technique late season by calling less often and softer. Scout harder to locate turkeys and be alert for smart gobblers to come in silent.

Wherever you end up hunting this last leg of the season, remember three things: Be safe, have fun and introduce someone new to turkey hunting!

Remember: Turkey hunting requires a Big Game license in addition to a Hunting license. To hunt on a WMA, you need a Wildlife Management Area license. BUY A LICENSE!  Click HERE for a map of all WMAs in Georgia!

Table 1:Top WMA’s (Total Turkey Harvest) This Season (2012)

Region WMA Number of Hunters Total Harvest

1

Berry College

160

41

1

Paulding Forest

500

43

2

Lake Russell

468

42

2

Dawson Forest

580

48

3

Tuckahoe

152

32

3

Dilane

130

42

4

Cedar Creek

470

70

4

Ocmulgee

433

42

5

Chickasawhatchee

N/A

20

5

Silver Lake

N/A

8

6

Bullard Creek

85

14

6

Flat Tub

59

11

7

Sansavilla

151

13

7

Griffin Ridge

9

4

Table 2:Best WMA’s for Late Season Success
REGION WMA

1

Sheffield WMA

1

Rocky Mountain PFA

2

Warwoman WMA

2

Chestatee WMA

3

Tuckahoe WMA

3

Dilane WMA

4

Big Lazer Creek WMA

4

Blanton Creek WMA

5

Chickasawhatchee WMA

5

Silver Lake WMA

6

Bullard Creek WMA

6

Big Hammock WMA

7

Altamaha WMA

7

Townsend WMA
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