WILD TURKEY SEASONS
Daily limit 1; Possession limit 2
Annual limit 2
Youth Day (male or bearded turkey only): April 3, 2010
Turkey hunting by youth on this day is allowed statewide, but some
game lands will require a permit. See Game Lands section. Each
youth hunting during this season must be accompanied by a
properly licensed adult at least 21 years of age (“Youth” means
a person less than 16 years of age). The adult may accompany
only one youth during any particular hunt, and only one
weapon is allowed per youth hunter. Each youth must have a
“Big Game Harvest Report Card for License-Exempt Hunters”
and report harvests according to instructions in this Digest.
Restrictions It is unlawful to:
* Use dogs during the spring wild turkey season.
*Riffles or muzzleloading rifles to hunt wild turkey.
* Possess live wild turkeys or live birds that are indistinguishable
from wild turkeys.
* Take wild turkeys from an area in which bait has been placed.
(An area is considered baited until 10 days after the bait has
been consumed or otherwise removed.)
* Wild turkeys and deer harvested during the Urban Archery
Season can only be registered by using either the toll-free big
game reporting system or by using the Internet.
POPULATION: 150,000 2009 HARVEST: 12,677
STATEWIDE SEASON DATES: April 10-May 8
POACHER HOTLINE: (800) 662-7137 Tar Heel hunters set a record turkey harvest during the 2009 spring season, and biologists with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are expecting another high harvest during the 2010 season. Although summer brood surveys have indicated only fair productivity the past three years, productivity in 2008 and the 2009 spring season jake harvest were both up over previous years. That means hunters in some areas of the state may encounter more 2-year-old birds (the age class that tends to gobble most frequently) during the 2010 spring season.
North Carolina has 2 million acres of public hunting land in the NCWRC’s Game Land Program. There are permit hunt opportunities on a number of game lands, including several youth hunts. See the NCWRC’s publication titled Permit Hunting Opportunities in North Carolina for additional information on permit hunts. Turkey hunting on most other game lands is allowed without a special hunt permit, but special regulations apply on some game lands. Refer to the NCWRC’s Regulations Digest for more information on hunting game lands. Go to the state agency’s Web site to view these publications and for additional information on hunting in North Carolina. — Brian Zielinski
What Does a Wild Turkey Look Like?
- The wild turkey is the largest of North America’s game birds.
- Adult males, known as toms or gobblers, normally weigh between 16 and 24 pounds.
- Females, known as hens, are smaller than males and usually weigh between 8 and 10 pounds.
- The largest wild turkey on record weighed 37 pounds.
- Males: Gobblers have iridescent red, green, copper, bronze and gold feathers. They use these bright colors to great advantage when attracting females during breeding season.
- Females: Hens have drab, usually brown or gray feathers. They make great camouflage and hide hens when they sit on their nests.
- Color Phases: A few wild turkeys grow unusually colored feathers. These are known as color phases. There are four color phases, a smokey gray color phase, a melanistic color phase (all black), an erythritic color phase (reddish coloration) and an albino color phase (very rare).
- Males: Males have brightly colored, nearly featherless heads. During breeding season the color of their heads alternates between red, white and blue, often changing in a few seconds.
- Hens: A hen’s head is gray-blue and has some small feathers for camouflage.
- Caruncles and Snoods: Both males and females have fleshy growths on their heads known as caruncles. They also both have snoods, fleshy protrubances that hang over their bills and can be extended or contracted at will. The snood of an adult male is usually much larger than that of a female. No one knows for sure what these growths are for, but both probably developed as ways to attract mates.
- A male turkey grows a cluster of long, hairlike feathers from the center of its chest. This cluster is known as the turkey’s beard.
- On adult males, these beards average about 9 inches long.
- 10 to 20 percent of hens also grow beards.
- The longest beard on record is more than 18 inches long.
- Wild turkey legs are reddish-orange.
- They have four toes on each foot.
- Male wild turkeys grow large spurs on the backs of their lower legs. These spurs are pointed, bony spikes and are used for defense and to establish dominance.
- Spurs can grow up to 2 inches in length. The longest spurs on record are 2.25 inches long.
- Wild turkey tails are usually 12 to 15 inches long and are banded at their tips. The color of the bands in the tail varies by subspecies.
- Male wild turkeys fan their tails when displaying to attract a mate.
- You can usually tell the difference between an adult male (a tom) and a juvenile male (a jake) turkey by looking at a turkey’s tail. All tail feathers of adult males are the same length. The feathers forming the center of a jake’s tail are usually longer than the rest of the feathers in the tail.
Don’t forget your Camouflage Cornhole Boards.
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