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State wildlife officials projecting successful turkey hunting season

POSTED: March 24, 2014 4:43 p.m.

Hunters preparing to head to the woods for turkey season should be sure to review important turkey hunting safety tips, encourages the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“Before pulling the trigger, it is critical to know what is in front of and beyond your targeted area and you should never shoot at sound or movement,” said Walter Lane, hunter development program manager for the Wildlife Resources Division. “Firearms safety knowledge is paramount to keeping you, and everyone else near you, safe while in the woods.”

Georgia’s current turkey population is estimated at 335,000 birds and turkey hunters in this state are privileged with one of the longest turkey seasons nationwide. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have through May 15 to harvest their birds.  With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to always obtain landowner permission before hunting.

“One of the best areas of the state will be the coastal plain, thanks to reproduction numbers that were stable in 2012, and then saw an increase this past year,” said Kevin Lowrey, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “However, due to both low reproduction numbers and a good harvest of gobblers for the past two years, 2014 might be a challenging year for hunters, especially in the piedmont and ridge and valley.”

Hunters are encouraged to review the following turkey hunting season safety precautions. The season opened Saturday.
• Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing while turkey hunting. Red is the color most hunters look for when distinguishing a gobbler’s head from a hen’s blue-colored head, but at times it may appear white or blue. Male turkey feathers covering most of the body are black in appearance. Camouflage should be used to cover everything, including the hunter’s face, hands and firearm.
• Select a calling position that provides at least a shoulder-width background, such as the base of a tree. Be sure that at least a 180-degree range is visible.
• Do not stalk a gobbling turkey. Due to their keen eyesight and hearing, the chances of getting close are slim to none.
• When using a turkey call, the sound and motion may attract the interest of other hunters. Do not move, wave or make turkey-like sounds to alert another hunter to your presence. Instead, identify yourself in a loud voice.
• Be careful when carrying a harvested turkey from the woods. Do not allow the wings to hang loosely or the head to be displayed in such a way that another hunter may think it is a live bird. If possible, conceal the turkey in a blaze orange garment or other material.

Although it’s not required, it is suggested that hunters wear blaze orange when moving between a vehicle and a hunting site. When moving between hunting sites, hunters should wear blaze orange on their upper bodies to facilitate their identification by other hunters.

Turkey hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a big game license to legally hunt turkeys in Georgia. If hunting on a wildlife management area, hunters must also possess a WMA license.  Sportsmen and women must always obtain permission from a landowner before hunting on private land. Only male turkeys may be harvested, and the season bag limit is three gobblers per hunter.

Where can you get a license? Buy it online, find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations. A 2014 turkey season forecast is available at www.youtube.com/user/GeorgiaWildlife.

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