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Record Harvest and Changes in Bag Limit Mark Tennessee’s 2023 Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Season

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 5-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 2-day Young Sportsman Hunt and the opening weekend were 71 percent and 45 percent higher than the respective 5-year averages, but by 20 days into the season, reported harvest was above the 5-year average by only 11 percent.

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“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 2-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 5-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.

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