Anyone who may have been looking for a silver lining during the COVID-19 pandemic need look no further than the nearest clearing in a nearby forested area.
Brent Womack with the Department of Natural Resources Region One office in Armuchee said Friday that the region enjoyed a tremendous turkey harvest this year. Statewide the turkey harvest was up 27% this year.
“It was a great way that people could maintain social distancing and yet still get out and be active” Womack said.
The wildlife biologist said he doesn’t have any way of knowing how many of the hunters were new to the sport, but said license sales were up pretty significantly this spring. DNR Communications officer Melissa Cummings reported that between March 1 and July 15, the sale of recreational hunting and fishing licenses in Georgia increased by 28% over last year.
“Some of our efforts have been around the three R’s, recruitment, retention and reactivation,” Womack said. “We want to recruit new hunters, keep propel hunting and then try to reactivate people who may have hunted as a kid but stopped.”
The ridge and valley region of the state across Northwest Georgia is one of the prime areas for turkey. Hunters took 2,253 gobblers from the region this spring.
“In the Southeast there has been a general trend of the turkey population as declining slightly over the last several years, but Northwest Georgia has seemed to be able to retain its population and in some areas it has actually increased,” Womack said.
He said the turkey population has remained very strong across the lower Coosa Valley region, particularly counties like Floyd, Polk, Paulding and Haralson.
‘They are all some of the higher success turkey harvest areas in the state. It’s something we can be proud of,” Womack said. The harvest on public lands across the state was up 26% this spring. The state managed Wildlife Management Areas, such as Johns Mountain, Allatoona, Crockford-Pigeon Mountain and Berry College WMAs are included in those figures.
Historically speaking, the Berry has provided some of the strongest habitat for turkey. Gobblers were trapped from the Berry area four decades ago for relocation and restocking efforts around the state in what has become a major success story for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.