March 15, 2023
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — Hunters will soon be able to pick up their printed copy of the 2023 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook at sporting goods stores across Arkansas, but those who visit agfc.com will see the online version and a few new opportunities to hunt popular wildlife management areas this turkey season.
According to Jeremy Wood, turkey program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, additional permit hunts were added to Devil’s Eyebrow Natural Area, Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA, Cypress Bayou WMA, McIlroy Madison County WMA and Petit Jean River WMA.
“Petit Jean River and Cypress Bayou WMAs really are more of a change from open to permit-only hunts,” Wood said. “The end result should be a much higher quality hunt for those who draw. Youth hunts are still open on these areas without a drawn permit, but the regular season firearms hunts are permit only.”
Hunters will also notice a hybrid-style permit hunt mentioned in the guidebook’s “New This Year” section. Longview Saline Natural Area WMA, Trusten Holder WMA and Warren Prairie Natural Area WMA will join Sylamore WMA in its format of restricting hunting to drawn permit holders only during the first three days of the season, then opening up to allow any licensed turkey hunter access for the remainder of the season. The change allows some high-quality regulated hunting to occur for the opener as well as offering many other hunters the chance at working the birds and learning these popular hunting areas once the permit hunt has ended.
Other changes for the 2023 turkey season include the elevation of baiting wild turkeys to a Class 3 violation, which, upon conviction, carries a fine of $500 to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to 90 days, and one year suspension of license privileges. The land belonging to Ozark National Forest WMA has also been reclassified into White Rock WMA, Lee Creek WMA or Piney Creeks WMA, depending on location.
This year’s turkey season opens April 17, and extends either through April 25 or May 7, depending on the zone you are hunting. During the regular season, hunters may only take one turkey during the first seven days (Monday-Sunday) of the regular season, even if they are hunting in a zone with a two-turkey bag limit. The youth hunt will take place on April 8-9. Only youths 6-15 are allowed to hunt during this period. They they may take only one turkey, which may be a jake or adult gobbler. Harvests during the youth hunt count toward the statewide bag limit of two legal turkeys.
Regulations are only a small part of the puzzle when it comes to turkey conservation. One way everyone can help turkey habitat is to purchase an Arkansas Turkey Conservation Stamp. Proceeds from the sale of these stamps are combined with funds from the sale of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Stamp and are used to increase high-quality habitat throughout the state.
Visit www.agfc.com/turkey to learn more about turkey conservation in Arkansas and purchase an Arkansas Turkey Conservation Stamp.