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Special to The Hesperian-Beacon—
AUSTIN – A great 2019 nesting season for wild turkeys means more young toms (or jakes) will be seen by hunters this spring. Jakes are typically more forgiving than older toms and create a prime opportunity for new turkey hunters to bag their first bird.
The spring season for Rio Grande turkey season got under way March 14-15 with a youth-only weekend in the South Zone, followed by a general season that runs March 21-May 3 and then culminates with a youth-only weekend May 9-10. In the North Zone, the youth-only weekend seasons are March 28-29 and May 23-24. The North Zone general season opens April 4 and runs through May 17. A special one-gobbler limit season runs April 1-30 in Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Milam, and Wharton counties.
“If the current green conditions hold and weather does not turn hot too early, Texas can expect another year of turkey population growth,” said Jason Hardin, TPWD turkey program leader. “We currently have good soil moisture across much of Texas and just need a little more to keep us on track for another great year of recruitment.”
“With low harvest rates, most Rio Grande turkey hunters can expect to see some 4- and 5-year-old toms across most of the Rio Grande range. There are not going to be a lot of 2-3-year-old birds out there this spring,” said Hardin. “With the spring coming on strong, toms will pair with hens early in the season. But as those hens begin to initiate nesting activities around the middle of the season, the toms will turn on and readily come to calling.”
Eastern spring turkey hunting in the counties having an open season starts on April 22 and runs through May 14. Hunters are required to report harvest of eastern wild turkeys electronically to TPWD within 24 hours of harvest. Reports can be made through the TPWD My Texas Hunt Harvest App or online from the TPWD turkey page at www.tpwd.texas.gov/turkey . The app is available for free download from Google Play or the App Store. Hunters will be issued a confirmation number upon completion of the reporting process. Hunters still have to tag harvested birds.
The harvest reporting app can also be used as a tool for voluntarily reporting and tracking harvests of other resident game species, including Rio Grande turkey. With My Texas Hunt Harvest, hunters can log harvested game animals and view harvest history, including dates and locations of every hunt.