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Return Of The Turkeys

Last spring, turkey hunters took a record number of birds. While it’s unlikely that hunters will top last year’s spring harvest of nearly 28,800 turkeys this year, hunters probably will take around 27,800 during this spring’s season, which opens statewide April 14.

Although turkey numbers in the state are settling down because of moderate reproduction rates, there still should be a good population of birds this year because of good weather and plenty of food.

“With the exception of one really cold period, we had a mild winter without much snow to cover up food for turkeys, so they should come through the winter in good shape with a good survival rate,” says Steven Dobey, turkey biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

You’ll find turkeys scattered throughout Kentucky. Muhlenberg and Ohio counties in western Kentucky traditionally lead the state in turkey harvest, while Beaver Creek Wildlife Management Area in southeastern Kentucky’s McCreary County is gaining a reputation for hunter success in challenging terrain.

Hunters take more turkeys on opening day than any other day of the 23-day spring season. That’s because the birds haven’t been exposed to thousands of hunters and their turkey calls prowling through the woods.

Can’t make it into the woods on opening day? There are a few tricks for later in the season.

Do some scouting. Figure out which trees the birds are using to sleep at night. Be near that roost well before dawn and make sure that your call is the first that birds hear that day. If there has been heavy hunting pressure in the area, avoid the temptation to work your call every few minutes. Make a yelp or two at daybreak and let the gobbler find you.

Turkeys have terrific vision, so it’s important that you have your face and hands camouflaged. Avoid any movement once you’re hunting. Turkeys use their vision and hearing for protection, not their sense of smell. So while you want to avoid insect repellent while you’re deer hunting, it’s okay to use while turkey hunting.

Try hunting with a partner if a gobbler won’t come within range. Have one person call and position the other 30 yards away. Both hunters should face opposite directions and never twist around to take a shot. Good luck this year, and hunt safely.


INSIDER’S TIP

Receive a $15 discount when you register your child online for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s summer camps. Visit fw.ky.gov on the Internet for more information.

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