FRANKFURT, Ky. – As Kentucky’s winter conditions retreat, warmer temperatures provide hunters with annual opportunities to start the season with new success – and fresh meals of locally sourced wild turkeys to enjoy.
This year, Kentucky’s statewide hunting seasons kick off with spring turkey season for youngsters April 2-3. The general spring turkey season opens April 16 and ends May 8. Kentucky‘s spring hunting season is structured to give turkeys ample time to breed before hunting pressure is introduced.
Hunters should see more young birds this season than last year, said Zak Danks, wild turkey program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
“We expect a healthy harvest this spring as better hatching over the past few summers has produced more poults, or young turkeys, that have matured into gobbling adults,” he said.
While two poults per hen is considered a balanced recruitment rate, the 2021 statewide turkey brood survey found that hens produced an average of 3.2 poults.
“Based on brood survey numbers, hunters can expect to see more jakes in the field that have never been hunted,” Danks said. “We also observed a lot of jakes during our winter turkey research activities.”
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has expanded its turkey monitoring efforts with a new banding study that began earlier this year. Planned to avoid interfering with the spring hunt, the department trapped, banded and released 231 turkeys at its capture sites in February and early March.
“After a few years, we will have valuable information that we didn’t have before,” Danks explained. “During this first year of the study, our goal was to capture, band and release as many turkeys as possible while learning best practices for future banding efforts. It has been an instructive year for the program.
The project will collect population data over a four-year period, in addition to the annual brood survey. Hunters who harvest turkeys with a leg ring must report this to the department at fw.ky.gov.
New hunters should note that hunter education in Kentucky comes down to in-person firearms training sessions. Hunters considering using the video submission option to complete their safe live fire demonstration requirement must complete submissions by May 1. fw.ky.gov.
As a reminder, hunters or wildlife observers may not use turkey calls from March 1 until the opening of the young season, and from the end of this season until the opening of of the season statewide. However, hunters may use calls that mimic owls or crows when scouting in preseason. Hunters also cannot use grain or other bait to lure turkeys from March 1 through May 31.
Hunters are allowed a limit of two bearded or male birds during the spring season, but no more than one per day. The spring limit does not count towards the bag limit for the fall season.
An annual hunting license and a spring turkey license are required to hunt turkeys during the spring season.
Residents can purchase the Athlete’s License at a discounted rate of $95. This comprehensive permit includes spring and fall turkey permits, a combination hunting and fishing permit, deer permit, state migratory bird and waterfowl permit, and trout permit. If purchased separately, these licenses and permits would cost $162.
Buy licenses and permits, search for public lands and view the 2022 Spring Hunting Guide online at fw.ky.gov.
All wild turkey harvests must be reported using the ministry’s “Telecheck” big game recording system. This can be done in line or by phone at 800-245-4263 (800-CHK-GAME). Telecheck helps ensure legal harvests and records important biological data to monitor harvest trends.
Anyone with knowledge of poaching or wildlife crime can use the KFWLaw app or text the keyword “KFWLAW” with their message or tip to 847411 (tip411). Tips can also be reported by calling 1-800-25-ALERT (1-800-252-5378).
Visit the Spring Turkey Hunt Page on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website for more information on season dates, the Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, Important Reminders, Available Public Lands, and Other Kentucky Turkey Hunting Resources.