LITTLE ROCK - For the fourth consecutive year, commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have agreed that a shorter season is needed to match gobbler harvest to recent below-average turkey brood production. It also will allow more hens to breed and start nesting before hunters take to the woods.
The season framework was approved after a review of recent harvests, brood surveys and gobbling chronology data along with input from turkey hunters.
Commissioners also approved adding two zones on Arkansas lands east of the Mississippi River. Zone 17A will follow the season frameworks and bag limits of adjacent Tennessee lands, while Zone 17B will follow season frameworks for adjacent Mississippi lands.
A Saturday opening day amendment was approved in a close vote. The proposal that came out of committee called for a Monday opener of the spring turkey season. The vote was 4-3 in favor of the Saturday opener.
The spring 2010 turkey season youth hunt will be April 3-4 for most of the state. The youth hunt in zones 17 and 17A will be March 27-28, and zone 17B will be March 6-12.
The statewide spring turkey season will be April 10-27 in zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9 and 10; April 10-20 in zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A, April 3-20 in zone 17, April 3-May 16 in zone 17A, and March 13-May 2 in zone 17B. Zone 1A will be closed.
The bag limit for the spring season will be the same as last year's turkey season. Individual limit of two gobblers or bearded turkeys for spring season in turkey zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17; one gobbler or bearded turkey in turkey zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A. No more than one legal turkey may be taken per day, no more than one jake (sub-adult male) may be taken per season and no more than two legal turkeys may be taken during the spring season in any combination of zones. In zone 17A, hunters will be limited to four bearded turkeys with no more than one legal turkey per day. In zone 17B, the limit will be three adult gobblers (or gobblers with at least a six-inch beard) with no more than one adult gobbler taken per day.
In other business, the Commission:
*Heard a presentation on the 2009 alligator hunt in zones 1 and 3. A total of four alligators were taken in zone 1 and eight alligators in zone 3. The largest alligator was a 12-foot, 11-inch male taken in zone 1 that weighed approximately 600 pounds.
*Heard a presentation on the state's new deer checking system. So far this year, more than 26,500 deer have been checked. At the same time last year, a total of 20,455 deer had been checked.