Texas hunters ready for 2021 spring turkey season

Brownwood Bulletin
Scott Anderson

Fruitful nesting seasons in 2019 and 2020 contribute to a promising outlook for this year’s Texas spring turkey hunting season.

While the South Texas zone is already open for spring turkey season, activity across much of the state will officially begin April 3, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wild Turkey Program Leader Jason Hardin.

There should be many successful Texas hunters this season no matter the location, he said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network.

“We had great production in 2019, so those birds are now two-year-olds across most of the [Rio Grande wild turkey] range. And we had another good year of production last year, so there will be a lot of jakes out there, which bodes well for new hunters or folks that are just out looking to put a bird in the freezer and also bodes well for the 2021-2022 season, because we’ll have a lot of two- and three-year old birds next year,” Hardin said. “Time will tell what production will be like this year, but for now it looks good. I’ve been out around the state and seen birds strutting and gobbling from North Texas all the way to the Rio Grande River.”

Spring 2021 turkey season dates

The spring Rio Grande wild turkey season in northern counties is from April 3 to May 16 and from March 20 to May 2 in the southern zone.

Hunters should take note a special one-turkey bag limit exists in Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Milam and Wharton counties.

The Eastern wild turkey season in East Texas is from April 22 to May 14. The East Texas counties include Bowie, Cass, Fannin, Grayson, Jasper, Lamar, Marion, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Red River and Sabine.

Harvested birds in East Texas must be reported to TPWD within 24 hours, and all Eastern turkey harvests must be reported through TPWD’s app or website.

Reports may be made using the TPWD My Texas Hunt Harvest webpage or through the TPWD My Texas Hunt Harvest app.

Hardin said the mandatory reporting is to help TPWD get an accurate population count in an area where less hunting occurs.

With limited harvest in East Texas and those 10 counties from Lee down to Matagorda, we just don’t have the data to rely on through our small game harvest survey. By requiring mandatory reporting, we can get really precise numbers on what’s being harvested in that area and use that from year-to-year to track what’s going on with that population.

Hunters must also have an upland game bird endorsement to hunt turkeys. The endorsement is available as part of a TPWD super combo license or may be purchased separately, Hardin said.

It is legal to harvest bearded hens in the spring, which Hardin said allows new or inexperienced hunters some leniency in accidentally shooting the wrong sex and avoids wasting harvested game.

If someone accidentally shot a bearded hen, we’d rather them utilize that bird, take the meat, take the feathers, use what you would with a male and not waste that game. That is the goal.

Maintaining proof of sex after harvest is important. Hardin advised hunters to keep a patch of skin with breast feathers and beard attached from a bearded hen. Hunters should keep a leg, including the spur, or a patch of skin with breast feathers and beard attached from a gobbler until the bird reaches its processing destination.

The beard does not have to be attached to the bird, but it needs to be with the bird. It used to be that you had to maintain that proof of sex attached to the bird, but that made it a little more difficult to store that bird, get it cut up, put in a cooler. We tried to ease that regulation on our hunters, and now they just need to maintain that proof of sex somewhere with them in that vehicle. So, whenever the game warden does visit with them, they can show that proof of sex.

Visit TPWD’s website for more information on turkey hunting regulations.

San Saba County Pecan Field Day

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the San Saba County Pecan Growers Association will host the annual Pecan Field Day on Monday May 3 at the San Saba Civic Center. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with the program beginning at 9 a.m. There will be a $40 registration for those who pre-register and $60 at the door. An enchilada lunch will be provided by Pepperbelly’s Restaurant.

Speakers for this year’s program: Neal Alexander, San Saba County Extension Agent, Laws and Regulations; Monte Nesbitt, Extension Horticulture Specialist, College Station will discuss Pecan Integrated Pest Management; Monte will also present Pecan Pathology and will discuss Pecan Show-Show Stoppers; Colton Ploch, Graduate Assistant Extension Horticulture, Pecan Fertilization; and Stephen Janak, Extension Horticulture Specialist, Orchard Floor Management.

Several commercial exhibitors will have equipment and products available for your consideration. Time during the program will be allowed for you to visit with these supporters of our educational effort. Capital Farm Credit, Moore’s Service Center, Corteva Agri Sciences, J.C. Smith Company, Womack Nursery Company, Heartland Crop Insurance, Lawson Implement, Savage Equipment and Southern Nut ‘N Tree/PPI, Helena Agri-Enterprises, Bayer Crop Sciences, Ag Workers Insurance and Central Texas Farm Credit are those we know of at this time.

Five Continuing Education Units have been applied for from Texas Department of Agriculture. These are for those of you with Private, Non  Commercial, or Commercial Applicator License. (3 General, 1 IPM, 1 L&R) This annual Field Day has been well attended for many years. Plan to attend and invite someone interested in the Pecan Industry. Please call to pre-register by noon Friday April 23rd. This will enable Romero to better prepare for lunch. Call or come by the San Saba County Extension office to register or if you have questions. We are on the first floor of the Courthouse east side. Call 325-372-5416.