With close to 2.6 million sportsmen and women considering themselves wild turkey hunters, the sport is one of the most popular types of hunting in the United States.
In Arkansas spring turkey season is one of the most anticipated events on the outdoor calendar. The 2002 spring turkey season runs from April 1 through May 5.
The maximum limit is two turkeys during the spring season. No more than one turkey may be taken per day, and no more than one jake may be taken per season, according to Arkansas Game and Fish regulations.
The dates open for spring turkey hunting in the Harold E. Alexander/Spring River Wildlife Management Area are April 1-2, April 6-8. April 13-15, April 20-22 and April 27-29.
Permits are required for hunting on wildlife management area lands. Although harvest results from the spring 2001 season were down slightly (0.4 percent decrease from spring 2000), counties in our area experienced record harvests.
Of the 17,557 turkeys harvested in the spring 2001 seasons, 752 were taken in Sharp County. This represents the most turkeys taken in any county last year and also was the first time since turkeys have been checked in Arkansas that any county has recorded a harvest of greater than 750 birds during the spring season.
Fulton County (618 birds) and Izard County (597) were also in the top four counties in the state and recorded record harvests as well. For the spring 2001 season, 31 of the 75 counties in Arkansas had a record harvest.
The average weight of turkeys killed in the Ozarks was 20.3 pounds with an average beard length of 10 inches.
For spring turkey season only shotguns (10 gauge and smaller) and archery equipment, including crossbow, are legal to use. Turkeys may be taken 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Shooting across or hunting within 100 feet of the center of a city, county, state or federally maintained road is illegal. Wild turkeys may not be hunted over bait.
To make your spring hunt a safe and successful one, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offers the following hunter safety tips:
* Positively identify your target.
* Assume every noise and movement is another hunter.
* Never stalk a turkey or turkey sound.
* Eliminate red, white and blue from your clothing.
* Make your position known to other hunters.
* do not move if you see another hunter.
* Practice courtesy and self-control.
For more information on spring turkey and any other hunting seasons and regulations call the Eastern Ozarks Region (Region 9) office of the Game and Fish Commission at 870-297-4331.