Hunters participating in the spring 2016 turkey season, which ended May 15, had something new to remember, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division – the reporting of all harvested turkeys.
All turkey hunters, including those under 16 years of age, landowners, honorary, lifetime, and sportsman license holders, were required to obtain a free harvest record and to enter date and county of harvest prior to moving a harvested bird. Then, within 72 hours, they had to complete the reporting process through Georgia Game Check.
According to the Georgia Game Check System, the number of turkeys reported during the 2016 Georgia turkey season is 11,224. Based on previous year harvest estimates, it appears that approximately 40-45% of the actual statewide harvest was reported via the Georgia Game Check system.
“It is important to understand that this year’s results from the Georgia Game Check System do not represent the full statewide turkey harvest as this was the first year of required reporting. Certainly, there are some hunters that were unaware of this new system and did not participate,” said Tina Johannsen, Program Operations Manager with the Game Management Section of the Wildlife Resources Division. “However, while the number returned represents only the minimum number of harvested turkeys reported, the Game Check system is a real-time tracking of the harvest.”
Beyond minimum reported turkey harvest, the Georgia Game Check System also gives wildlife biologists additional data that provides other real-time information. This includes gobbler versus jakes harvest: 89% gobblers, 11 % jakes. Additionally, ninety-eight percent (98%) of turkeys reported were harvested with firearms, 1.7% with muzzleloader and nearly 0.4% with archery equipment. The reported turkeys harvested from public land was 1,461 (13% of total reported harvest).
The final annual estimate of statewide turkey harvest will be determined through an annual telephone survey that follows established and rigorous scientific protocols to ensure accuracy and confidence.
“We have had great feedback from hunters about Georgia Game Check and we anticipate improved cooperation as more hunters are informed and become familiar with the reporting requirement,” said Johannsen. “WRD will continue to educate hunters about Georgia Game Check in advance of the 2016-17 deer hunting season.”
For more information on the harvest record or the Georgia Game Check System, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.