The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has compiled figures from the state’s recently-completed 2023 spring wild turkey hunting season. The total reported harvest is 31,802, a six-percent increase from 2022 and a two percent decrease over the previous five-year average (32,495).
The season saw changes with a two-week-later opening date than in previous years and the bag limit reduced from three birds to two birds, only one of which could be a juvenile or jake.
Harvest at the beginning of the season was extremely high and then dropped considerably as the season progressed. Harvest on private land during the two-day Young Sportsman Hunt and the opening weekend were 71 percent and 45 percent higher than the respective five-year averages, but by 20 days into the season, reported harvest was above the five-year average by only 11 percent.
“The steep drop-off in harvest as the season continued may be attributed to the lower bag limit,” said Roger Shields, TWRA Wild Turkey Program Coordinator. “As hunters reached their two-bird limit, they had to stop hunting. In the past, they may have continued hunting and harvested additional birds.”
Despite the slow finish to the season, a total of 25,500 hunters reported harvesting at least one turkey, 20 percent greater than the five-year average of successful hunters.
Middle Tennessee (TWRA Region II) had 11,662 turkeys with four of the state’s top five counties. West Tennessee (Region I) had 7,832 turkeys reported; followed by the Upper Cumberland (Region III) with 6,157; and East Tennessee (Region IV) with 6,150.
The 2024 spring turkey season will be held April 13-May 26. The Young Sportsman Hunt is the weekend of April 6-7.