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Arkansas youth turkey hunters bag


LITTLE ROCK — Thousands of young hunters took to the woods last weekend for Arkansas’s annual youth turkey hunt, taking advantage of a bright, sunny opening morning followed by a moderately cloudy Sunday hunt, and the birds seemed to cooperate in stellar fashion. By the time the pollen settled Sunday night, hunters aged 6 to 15 checked 1,143 turkeys, 75 more turkeys than in 2023.
This is the second consecutive year the turkey harvest has topped 1,000, and is only the second time it has reached that level since 2016. While the upward trend is promising, Allison Fowler, assistant chief of wildlife management for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, notes that weather conditions during the two-day hunt play a big role in the success of the young hunters.
“We’re obviously excited to see so many successful young hunters out there, and we’re thankful that the weather turned out nearly perfect for an opening morning hunt,” Fowler said. “The turkeys were gobbling and many parents and mentors took the opportunity to get their young hunters out for what we hope will be the first of many birds in their hunting career.”
The youth hunt typically accounts for 10 percent of the overall season harvest, so Fowler is hopeful that hunters have a good regular season ahead.
“The forecast for Monday’s regular season opener looks like there is a good chance of rain and overcast skies, but not a sudden decrease in temperature,” Fowler said. “We hope to continue hearing some good gobbling as many hens begin to head to the nest and the male turkeys get anxious to continue breeding.”
Arkansas’s regular turkey season opens April 15. The season will end April 23 in Turkey Zone 1, which is composed of the extreme northwest and southwest portion of the state as well as the Crowley’s Ridge area and northern portion of the Arkansas Delta. Hunters in Turkey Zone 2, which makes up the majority of the state, will have until May 5 to chase gobblers. Only one legal turkey may be taken in Zone 1, but the seasonal limit is two legal turkeys in Zone 2. Only one legal turkey may be taken during the first seven days of the regular season. All turkeys taken by youths during the youth hunt count toward their seasonal limit.