Arkansas turkey hunters waiting impatiently to get back into the woods and enjoy the quest for that first gobbler will see some key changes in the upcoming spring season, starting April 19.
Modifications in zoning codes and season opening dates are included in new guidelines. These guidelines aim to protect the state’s declining eastern turkey population, reports Jeremy Wood, wild turkey program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, in the Arkansas Wildlife Weekly Newsletter.
Thanks to recent research and his staff’s collective biologic knowledge, Wood believes the changes strike a balance between the needs of the turkeys and the wishes of the hunters.
What to Expect for the 2021 Turkey Season
In January’s Outdoor Life, Wood stated that his outlook statewide for the 2021 turkey season is “on par with recent years in terms of harvest.” He adds that 2020 was the best year for reproduction throughout Arkansas in seven years.
One hot spot that may be busy for Arkansas turkey hunting this spring, he suggests, is the Gulf Coastal Plain ecoregion. This is thanks to its continued improvement in harvest rates as well as the strongest estimated reproductive rate in the state in the past two years.
The 2021 Turkey Hunting Guidebook for wildlife management zones will become available in March.
Regular Turkey Season Dates
The April 19 turkey season opening date is one of the latest in recent history. However, Wood points out that the AGFC’s plan should ultimately produce better seasons in the near future.
- Zone 1: April 19-27
- Zone 2: April 19-May 9
Hunters may find more information on the new zoning plan. Take a look at the new statewide zone map to see these changes.
Statewide Turkey Bag Limit
- For hunters age 16 and over, the limit is two legal turkeys, no jakes
- There is a one-bird limit on legal turkeys during the first seven days of the regular season
- Only one legal turkey may be taken per day
- Harvesting bearded hens is illegal
- There is a one-turkey bag limit in all individual wildlife management areas
The limits and seasons, Wood said, should offer “the best balance of hunter opportunity and what’s best for the turkey population so we have turkeys to hunt now as well as in the future.”
Special Youth Hunt
The annual youth hunt is set for April 10-11, for hunters ages 6-15. Visit the Arkansas Fish and Gaming Commission for:
- Youth hunt requirements
- How to set up a youth customer information number (CID)
- Bag limit information
- “My First Turkey Certificates”
New Zoning Configuration
The 2021 turkey hunting season ushers in a simplification of Arkansas’s turkey hunting zones, with the previous 18 zones reduced to two, with all zone boundaries based on county lines.
Turkey hunting season zones will continue a timeline similar to that used in 2020, with Zone 1 running nine days (one-bird bag limit) and Zone 2 lasting 21 days (two-bird bag limit). See “Regular Turkey Season Dates” above.
The Wrap on Maps
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offers a wide selection of helpful maps. Hunters can begin to study these maps long before they set foot in the woods.
Zone Maps provide a county-by-county breakdown of which zones are open to various types of wildlife hunting. Find out if hunting the game you want to take is allowed in the county you want to visit.
Detailed Interactive Maps
These detailed interactive maps offer a closer look at hunting area grounds around the state.
Georeferenced Public Use Maps
This large map directory offers an even closer look at lakes, water trails, and Arkansas’s Wildlife Management Areas.
Prepare for Turkey Season with Farm Bureau Insurance
Farm Bureau Insurance in Arkansas can help protect your expensive bow hunting equipment with Inland Marine insurance. Find a local agent using our Agent Finder to get a quote.