Texas is home to some great Rio Grande and eastern turkey hunting, but wild turkey populations are constantly changing. Habitat loss, ever-changing weather patterns, and increased hunter demand means turkey hunting seasons and regulations will always adapt to manage Texas’ turkey population. That being known, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted turkey hunting regulations for the 2011-2012 season with relatively few changes.
Effective for the 2012 season, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is closing spring turkey hunting in the following 15 East Texas counties in response to low turkey populations and harvest numbers: Cherokee, Delta, Gregg, Hardin, Houston, Hunt, Liberty, Montgomery, Rains, Rusk, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Tyler and Walker. Closing spring turkey seasons in these counties will enable biologists to reassess Eastern turkey restoration efforts in areas having suitable habitat, restock sites and provide brood stock protection.
The state’s goal is to reopen turkey hunting once the Eastern turkey populations in the affected counties are capable of sustaining harvest. Reduced harvest combined with habitat improvement may help the cause. Let’s remember that much of Texas has been greatly impacted by drought during three of the past four years. And remember, turkey habitat management at the ranch level or through management co-ops can help turkeys at the local level.
Also effective for the 2012 season, TPWD is delaying spring Eastern turkey hunting in the remaining counties having an open turkey season by two weeks. This means the season will run from April 15 through May 14 beginning in 2012. Wildlife biologists say the delay gives hens time to begin nesting prior to the turkey season opening.
Beginning in 2012, hunters may harvest any bearded Rio Grande turkey during the spring season in all counties having a bag limit of four turkeys. This includes a ton of counties, many of which are located in north-central Texas, the Texas Hill Country and South Texas. The turkey hunting season in Texas may be taking a slight haircut in your area, but remember that it’s the right decision if populations are declining. Now get outdoors!
If you love Texas, you will LOVE this video!