Spring Turkey Outlook Improves From 2023

Fitness for the Outdoors
February 24, 2024
Hunting Accidents At All-Time Low In Texas
March 17, 2024

With the early spring green-up and mild winter weather, spring wild turkey season is shaping up to be very productive for hunters.

Most of Texas experienced a bump in production and recruitment in 2023 following fall 2022, which had lots of acorns across central and east Texas, and early green up coupled with warm late winter conditions across most of the Rio Grande wild turkey range. Hunters can expect to see many young birds this spring, with a large number of jakes setting the stage for an increase in male harvest in 2025 and beyond.

The author photographed these two beautiful Rio Grand gobblers in Kerr County
(Photo: Chester Moore)

The 2022 drought means hunters can expect to see fewer two-year-old males – the most frequently harvested wild turkey cohort – on the landscape this spring. Fortunately, Texas has a low harvest rate (13 percent of males harvested annually) relative to most of the country. Texas has a large amount of older age-class males due to these low harvest rates. Males that survive their second birthday are wiser and often harder to hunt.

“Don’t just limit yourself to the early season,” said Jason Hardin, TPWD Wild Turkey Program leader. “The middle and later portions of the season usually have fewer hunters in the woods, and you never know when you will strike a tom in the mood to strut and gobble. Go early and go often.”

Ten counties in the Oaks and Prairies ecoregion of Central Texas (Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Milam and Wharton) offer a spring season from April 1–30.

Historically, a low number of turkeys in the region has resulted in spring-only seasons. Hunters are allowed a one-bird bag limit per county. All wild turkeys harvested in these counties have mandatory harvest reporting requirements and must be reported within 24 hours through the My Texas Hunt Harvest app or online.

Twelve counties in east Texas make up the East Turkey Zone including Bowie, Cass, Fannin, Grayson, Jasper, Lamar, Marion, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Red River and Sabine. There is a one-gobbler bag limit for the entire East Turkey Zone and mandatory harvest reporting is required.

Hunters who purchased a digital Super Combo license have a digital tagging option. All hunters who chose to use the digital tagging option must report their wild turkey at the time of harvest. Rules and guidance associated with the new digital tagging option can be found on the TPWD website.

The data obtained from these harvest reports helps TPWD better manage this population. TPWD encourages turkey hunters to learn about and share these new rules with fellow turkey hunters and landowners in the region to help TPWD keep tabs on these populations.

TPWD reminds hunters to review the Outdoor Annual before opening day to ensure they are hunting during a legal season. Hunters can check the TPWD website for exact season dates for the county where they plan to hunt. Hunters must possess an Upland Game Bird Stamp Endorsement to hunt wild turkeys in Texas.

The spring season dates are as follows:

Youth Only

Rio Grande: North Zone — March 23 — 24; May 18 — 19

Rio Grande:  South Zone — March 9 — 10; May 4— 5

Spring Regular Season

Rio Grande: North Zone — March 30 — May 12

Rio Grande: South Zone — March 16 — Apr.28

Rio Grande: Special One Turkey Bag Limit — April 1 — 30

Eastern Turkey: April 22 – May 14

Additional information about harvest reporting, bag limits and more can be found in the Outdoor Annual  or via the Outdoor Annual app. Apps are available for free download from Google Play or the App Store.


Comments are closed.