5 things to know for turkey hunting in Arkansas this season

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Turkey season will be held from April 19 to May 9 in most of Arkansas. New regulations on turkey hunting regarding bag limits have been set by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

As turkey hunting season approaches on April 19 through May 9, here are five important things to know before you begin your hunt.

1. Crawford, Logan, Franklin, and Sebastian counties are located in Zone 2 of private land turkey zones. The regulations set for this season include two legal mature male turkeys and no jakes, or juvenile male turkeys unless taken by a youth hunter April 10-11. During the first seven days of the regular season, no more than one legal turkey may be taken. Per day, a hunter may not harvest more than one legal turkey. 

One legal turkey for the first week of the season is a new regulation for this year. 

"The regulation is to reduce pressure within the first week while breeding is still actively taking place," said Kevin Lynch, wildlife management supervisor at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. 

2. A legal turkey is categorized as an adult gobbler. An adult gobbler can be identified by breast feathers with black tips, approximately twice the size of a female, and a beard that is greater than 6 inches in length. 

It is illegal for a female turkey, or hen, to be hunted. A hen can be identified by its size being half or 2/3 the size of an adult gobbler or jake. Their heads are primarily blue with light feathering and do not typically have beards, but approximately 10-12% of hens may have a beard, so it is important to make this distinction by their color and size.

Jake turkeys could be hunted by youth hunters April 10-11. Jake's are juvenile male turkeys with a shorter beard than an adult, central tail feathers that are longer than the rest, and wing feathers that lack white barring all the way to the tip. 

Only hunters ages six to 15 may harvest one jake as part of their two-bird limit.

3. Last year during the 16-day turkey season hunters checked a total of 8,583 turkeys, which was a 4% increase over 2019's count of 8,217. To get a harvest checked, a hunter must fill out a game tag from their license, check the turkey via agfc.com, or call 877-731-5627 within 12 hours of the harvest. 

A turkey cannot be transported across state lines before being checked.

4. A hunting license can be obtained online or over the counter at an AGFC regional office or nature center, or through sporting goods stores, and hunting and fishing supply stores across the state. Licenses are available for residents and non-residents. 

5. Only shotguns, 10-gauge or smaller, and archery equipment are allowed for legal turkey hunting. Traps, snares, nets, dogs, or live decoys are not allowed for hunting.