When Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season opens April 16, hunters should get plenty of opportunities to match wits with the older, experienced gobblers that make the sport so challenging and exciting.
“We have a high percentage of adult birds in our flocks and they are coming into breeding season in excellent condition because of last fall’s big mast (nut) crop,” said Steven Dobey, wild turkey biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The big harvest of 2-year-old birds last season may have (lessened) the number of 3-to-4 year-olds taken.”
Kentucky’s 23-day spring wild turkey season closes May 8. The youth-only season, for hunters under age 16, is April 2-3.
Statewide, Kentucky’s wild turkey flock is stable at about 225,000 birds, but growth continues in some mountain counties. “There’s an obvious abundance of turkeys in eastern Kentucky,” said Dobey. “That was concealed somewhat by the lack of hunting pressure.”
Kentucky has an estimated 90,000 wild turkey hunters. The hunter success rate in 2010 was about 40 percent.
The spring season limit is two bearded turkeys per hunter, but hunters can only take one bird per day. Any wild turkey with a visible beard may be taken, including bearded hens, which typically make up less than one percent of the harvest statewide. In some wild turkey populations, a higher percentage of hens may grow beards. Hens’ beards are shorter and thinner than gobblers’ beards.
Hunters are reminded that hunting over bait, such as grain, seed or manufactured animal feed, is illegal. Feeding wildlife outside the curtilage of the home (the area immediately surrounding a home or group of homes) is prohibited March 1 through May 31.
It is a hunter’s responsibility to know if an area has been baited. By law an area is considered baited for 30 days after all bait has been removed.
While it is legal to use locator calls such as a crow or an owl call prior to the season, it is illegal for hunters to mimic the sounds of a wild turkey from March 1 until opening day of the spring season.
For complete regulations regarding Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season, visit the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website at: fw.ky.gov.