Skip to main content

Turkey Guidebook available online

BY Randy Zellers

ON 03-23-2022


March 23, 2022

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK — The 2022 Arkansas Turkey Hunting Guidebook will be appearing at sporting goods stores across Arkansas within the next week, but hunters looking to get a peek at this year’s season dates can download a free online version of the guidebook at right now.

Last year saw some major changes in Arkansas’s turkey regulations, particularly in turkey zone structure. Instead of the historical 18 hunting zones, this relatively new format calls for only two.

“For the hunter, it realistically didn’t change much,” Jeremy Wood, AGFC Turkey Program coordinator, said. “Even with all those zones, there were only two season structures. We just simplified it for the hunter by combining all the zones that had the same season dates and bag limits.”

This year’s turkey season opens April 18, and extends either through April 26 or May 8, depending on the zone you are hunting.

The April 18 opening day coincides with the average peak nest-initiation date in Arkansas.

Although gobblers are sounding off a month or more before the season begins, research has shown the vast majority of hens are not ready to breed that early, and removal of dominant males can negatively impact or delay breeding activity.

“Looking at our brood survey data, only about 40 percent of the hens were bred by opening day,” Wood said. “With this delay, we may see 50 to 60 percent of hens bred. This may improve reproduction and it also means more hens will have started to lay their clutch, and males will increase gobbling as they look for receptive hens again.”

The youth hunt will take place on April 9-10. Only youths 6-15 are allowed to hunt during this period, and they may take either one jake or one adult gobbler. The adult mentor may call and help the youth hunter, but may not help fire the gun or carry a hunting firearm of their own.

During the regular season, hunters may only take one turkey during the first seven days of the regular season, even if they are hunting in a zone with a two-turkey bag limit. This regulation helps distribute some of the hunting success and pressure among the growing number of hunters taking up turkey hunting.

“Almost 70 percent of the harvest happens between the youth hunt and the first seven days of the season,” Wood said. “Although a very small percentage of hunters actually take two birds in a season, we’re hoping that this restriction will lessen some of the overall pressure in the woods during opening week.”

Regardless of season dates and bag limits, Wood stresses that the real difference maker in turkey management is habitat.

“Turkeys and other ground-nesting birds require a variety of habitat types within close proximity to each other,” Wood said. “Hens need nesting cover, but they also need bugging ground for newly hatched poults and escape cover that is easy for the young birds to move and hide from predators in. With nearly 90 percent of the state’s land in private ownership, working with private landowners to create good habitat is essential to future success in the turkey woods.”

One way everyone can help promote 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 to learn more about turkey conservation in Arkansas and purchase an Arkansas Turkey Conservation Stamp.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails

Don’t miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!