Conservative turkey season again proposed by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Little Rock (AGFC) Biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today proposed continuing a conservative turkey season structure. The conservative season structure has been in place since 2007. If approved at the October meeting, the season would be 18 days for most of the state with an additional two-day youth hunt.

The proposed season would begin April 16, 2011, and continue through May 3, 2011, in zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17. In zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A, it would run April 16, 2011, through April 26, 2011. Zone 1A would remain closed. A youth hunt is proposed for April 9-10, 2011, in all open zones. Another proposal for the turkey season would absorb zones 17A and 17B into Zone 17 and eliminate the one-week earlier opening date for those zones. "Although the turkey team recognizes there may be some minor biological differences between turkey zones along the Mississippi River and the rest of the state, there's not enough data to support an earlier opening."

The Wildlife Management Division arrived at the conservative season after reviewing turkey season harvest information, and brood survey and gobbling chronology figures for the past several years. Fall turkey season was closed in 2009 and will remain closed in 2010 to complement the conservative strategy.

A change in the season bag limit also was proposed by AGFC turkey biologist Mike Widner.

"After reviewing final brood survey results that show poor gobbler carryover and better reproduction in some areas of Arkansas, the staff now supports a more restrictive bag limit and proposes a two bearded turkey, no jake regulation," Widner explained.

The turkey team did not recommend any change to the already more restrictive bag limit in zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A, Widner said.

If approved, the bag limit for those zones would be one bearded turkey and no jakes.  Youth hunters will still be allowed to harvest one jake in any open zone.

In other business, the Commission:

*Approved a season correction to end the second dove season Jan. 3 instead of Jan. 5. The latter date was mistakenly approved at the July meeting. The new date will correct the error and make the season 70 days as mandated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

*Approved a budget increase of $25,000 for funds from the USDA Forest Service as part of a cost-share agreement for the management of Piney Creeks Wildlife Management Area. The agreement includes the development and maintenance of 364 wildlife openings on the WMA. The openings are being managed on a three-year rotation containing 120 locations.

*Approved a change in the fish and wildlife possession-limit regulation. The regulation has a new exception that states any fish or wildlife, excluding migratory game birds, legally taken for personal consumption and stored in processed form within a residence of the possessor, will not count toward the Arkansas possession limit. A residence is defined as a house, manufactured home or apartment that is permanently fixed in place and is owned, leased or rented by an individual who uses the dwelling to store the processed game. Tents, hotels, motels, resorts, commercial campgrounds, RVs, mobile travel trailers or motor vehicles are excluded from the definition of "residence."