by Arkansas Game and Fish
The annual Arkansas youth turkey hunt held April 11-12 showed a 27% harvest increase from last year despite a major cold front and Easter services for many families, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Hunters under the age of 16 checked 882 birds during the two-day hunt to open the 2020 spring turkey season, officials said.
Timing of the hunt this year happened to fall on Easter weekend, which may have discouraged some hunters from participating, particularly on Sunday morning. Current health concerns also may have kept some hunters at home. Many campgrounds and one wildlife management area cooperatively managed by the commission and the National Park Service were closed. A major storm front also blew through the state Sunday.
“Opening day had pretty decent conditions. We saw almost a 50% increase in harvest compared to opening day last year,” said Jeremy Wood, turkey program coordinator for Game and Fish. “Sunday did see a drop, but there were still plenty of people able to connect with a bird. There were a few portions of the state that saw a few hours of good conditions on Sunday afternoon that some youth hunters capitalized on.”
Regular turkey season began April 13 and runs through April 28 in most of Arkansas.
Wood said the front that may have affected Sunday’s harvest also brought some cold, windy conditions that have made for a tough start to the regular season.
“It’s been hard to hear the birds gobbling on the limb in the wind during morning hunts,” Wood said. “But, it looks like we’re going to get some good weather to close out the season for hunters continuing to chase birds.”
He added there are still many ways hunters can contribute to turkey conservation in Arkansas. One is to purchase a voluntary $9.50 turkey stamp, now in its inaugural year. The stamp, available through any license dealer or agfc.com is not required to hunt, but the proceeds go to turkey conservation in Arkansas.
“Hunters also can continue to help us track turkey populations by participating in the 2020 Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey right now, and the annual summer Quail and Turkey Brood Survey this summer,” Wood said.
“Counting checked birds gives us one piece of the puzzle, but these surveys help us get a clearer picture of how the turkey flock is doing and responding to different management practices.”