Spring Turkey Season Prospects Promising
Hunter patience, skill, put to the test this spring turkey season
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists, Texas Rio Grande wild turkey numbers have boomed over the past few years. Timely rainfall and relatively cool summer conditions have set the stage for optimum reproduction and recruitment.
As a result, turkeys rebound in many areas where they declined due to extended periods of drought.
That’s good news for turkey hunters hoping to bag a bird this spring.
More turkeys may not guarantee immediate success. Biologists predict the early spring green-up and abundance of juvenile hens could have a profound impact on breeding behavior or at least on a gobbler’s willingness to come to the call this season.
“Field observations indicate flocks have already begun to break up and toms have been strutting for weeks,” said Jason Hardin, TPWD Upland Game Bird Program specialist.
“That means many hens could become interested in breeding near opening day of the season, effectively hampering a hunter’s chances of luring love-struck gobblers. If you do go early in the season some of the best hunting could be mid-day after hens split off from males.”
“However, by mid-season most of the hens should be bred and incubating eggs leaving a large number of mature gobblers looking for love,” he noted. “Also, if conditions remain mild and if we get a few more timely rain events, Texas can expect another good year of nesting and populations growth.”
Youth-only turkey season starts Saturday
The spring season for Rio Grande turkey starts March 11-12 with a youth-only weekend in the South Zone. General season opens there March 18, and runs to April 30. It culminates with a youth-only weekend May 6-7.
In the North Zone, youth-only weekend seasons are March 25-26 and May 20-21. The North Zone general season opens April 1 and runs through May 14.
A special one-gobbler limit season runs April 1-30 in Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Milam, and Wharton counties.
Hunters who were on birds last year can expect more of the same in East Texas this spring. “They should be there again this spring,” Hardin said. “We do not expect to see a significant population shift from the 2016 season.”
Eastern spring turkey hunting in the counties having an open season is April 15-May 14. Hunters must report harvest of eastern turkeys electronically to TPWD within 24 hours. Report with the TPWD My Texas Hunt Harvest App or www.tpwd.texas.gov/turkey .
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Brandon Ray photo