Have a safe spring turkey season by remembering these tips

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By The Staff

By Officer David Goodlett

Ky. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources

The weather is finally starting to turn warmer and spring is in the air. Many people are looking forward to doing some fishing and trying to rid themselves of cabin fever.

While spring is a fine time to do some fishing, with the arrival of spring also comes the time of year that turkey hunters have looked forward to since the distant gobbles of last spring.

The spring turkey hunting season begins in Kentucky on Saturday, April 14and will run until May 6. Last year Anderson County accounted for 302 gobblers during the spring season. Kentucky had a reported harvest of 31,841 turkeys last spring from an estimated population of around 200,000 birds.

As one of your local conservation officers, when April 14 arrives, there are a few things I spring turkey hunters will remember. Safety is foremost while in the spring woods. While spring turkey hunting accidents have declined over the years, it is still imperative that hunters make certain of their target and what is beyond it before pulling the trigger. Although the only legal equipment for turkey hunting is a shotgun or archery equipment, both of which have a relatively short range, hunter orange is not required and hunters will be calling while in the woods. This creates the possibility that another hunter may sneak in close before you realize it.

One of the most common problems we encounter during the spring season is trespassing. State law requires that everyone have permission from the landowner before entering upon private property to hunt. Turkeys are very vocal in the spring and sometimes the temptation to go after that gobbling turkey is more than some hunters can stand. Just remember that someone else may have permission to hunt the adjacent property and could be in there hunting or may be at work and planning on hunting the next day.

Please respect the property rights and do not trespass to kill a turkey, it simply is not worth it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to talk about the ongoing problem of baiting an area to turkey hunt. Kentucky law states that it is illegal to hunt turkeys over an area that corn or any other material has been placed to attract turkeys. This includes but is not limited to active deer feeders, shelled corn, cracked corn, and wheat.

The most common we see is corn from feeders or simply scattered on the ground for turkeys to find. Any bait must be gone for 30 consecutive days before an area is considered legal for hunting. This law does not include picked corn fields or other fields harvested or planted in accordance with normal agricultural practices or ground that has been prepared for a wildlife food plot.

With wild turkeys being so abundant here in the county there is absolutely no need to put out a bait pile to harvest a turkey. Simply putting out a pile of corn and then sitting beside it and shooting a turkey requires little effort or skill on the part of the hunter and takes away from what the sport is all about.

Local officers spend a great deal of time in the woods every spring searching for these illegal turkey bait sites. We have even utilized aircraft in the past to aid us in our search. Regardless of how much we look, the fact is, I’m the only officer in the county with several thousand acres to look at. Just like any other law enforcement, we rely on other people in our community to help us. Many of our best cases in the past were developed from information given to us by concerned citizens who share our desire to make sure the wildlife laws are followed by everyone.

The wildlife in this county and all across the state belongs to everyone, not just the landowner where it happens to be living. This being said, we invite anyone that is aware of one of these areas to give us a call. The illegal taking of a wild turkey is a misdemeanor in Kentucky that carries a fine of up to $1,000.00 and/or up to a year in jail. There is also a replacement cost of $583.00 for each turkey taken illegally, the loss of hunting privileges for up to three years and loss of any equipment such as but not limited to guns, calls, blinds, feeders, ATV’s , and other vehicles that are utilized in the act of killing or attempting to kill a turkey by illegal means.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife also recently passed a regulation that prohibits the feeding of wildlife. It is now illegal to feed wildlife with grain, seed or manufactured animal feed outside the curtilage of the home (the area immediately surrounding the home or dwelling) from March 1-May 31. There does not have to be any intent to hunt the wildlife, the simple act of placing the feed in an area for wildlife is a violation of the law and the landowner can be cited, regardless of the intent of the feeding practice.

Wildlife offenses are taken seriously here in Kentucky and I thank our district judges for doing their part in the courtroom for the fish and wildlife of Kentucky. If you would like to help do your part and report a bait site or any other wildlife violation please call. All callers will remain anonymous.

Also, if you have any questions about turkey hunting laws or any fish, wildlife or boating laws feel free to contact me, Officer David Goodlett (502) 604-3731.You can also call our dispatch at 1-800-25-ALERT.

I hope everyone out there has a safe and successful spring season and for those of you hunting on someone else’s property make sure you thank the landowner and treat their property better than you would treat you own.

Good Luck!