Spring turkey hunting season arrives in Kentucky
The general spring turkey season opens April 16 and runs through May 8
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – As Kentucky’s winter conditions withdraw, the warmer temperatures bring annual opportunities for hunters to start the season off with fresh success – and fresh meals of locally sourced wild turkey to enjoy.
This year, Kentucky’s statewide hunting seasons kick off with the youth spring turkey season April 2–3. The general spring turkey season opens April 16 and concludes May 8. Kentucky’s spring hunting season is structured to give turkeys ample time to breed before introducing hunting pressure.
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’re anticipating a healthy harvest this spring, as better hatches the past few summers have produced more poults, or young turkeys, that have matured into gobbling adults,” he said.
While two poults per hen is considered a break-even recruitment rate, the statewide 2021 turkey brood survey revealed 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 expanded its turkey monitoring efforts through a new banding study that began earlier this year. Timed to avoid interfering with spring hunting, the department live-trapped, banded, and released at their capture sites 231 turkeys in February and early March.
“After a few years we will have valuable information that we’ve not had before,” Danks explained. “In 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 was an informative year for the program.”
The project will collect population data over a four-year span, supplementing the annual brood survey. Hunters who harvest turkeys with a band on the leg should report it to the department at fw.ky.gov.
New hunters should note that hunter education in Kentucky is returning to in-person range sessions on firearms handling. Hunters planning on using the video submission option to complete their safe live-fire demonstration requirement must complete submissions by May 1. To view hunter education classroom and range opportunities offered by the department, search “Hunter Ed” at fw.ky.gov.
As a reminder, hunters or wildlife watchers cannot use calls that imitate turkeys from March 1 until the opening of the youth-only season, and from the close of that season until the opening of the statewide season. However, hunters may use calls that imitate owls or crows while scouting in the pre-season. Hunters also may not use grains or other bait to attract turkeys from March 1 – May 31.
Hunters are allowed a limit of two bearded or male birds during the spring season, but no more than one may be taken per day. The spring limit does not count toward the fall season bag limit.
Both an annual hunting license plus a spring turkey permit are required for hunting turkeys during the spring season.
Residents may purchase the sportsman’s license at a discounted rate of $95. This comprehensive license includes spring and fall turkey permits, combination hunting and fishing license, deer permit, state migratory bird/waterfowl permit and trout permit. If purchased separately, these licenses and permits would cost $162.
Purchase 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 department’s “Telecheck” big game check-in system. This can be done online or via telephone at 800-245-4263 (800-CHK-GAME). Telecheck helps ensure lawful harvests and records important biological data for monitoring harvest trends.
Anyone with knowledge of poaching activities or wildlife violations can use the KFWLaw app or text the keyword “KFWLAW” along 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 Hunting page on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website for more information about season dates, the Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, important reminders, available public land and other turkey hunting resources in Kentucky.