From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
-- For Indiana hunters wondering why the spring wild turkey hunting season starts as late as it does this year, DNR wildlife research biologist Steve Backs has an explanation.
"It's always the first Wednesday after the 20th of April, so it can be the 21st to the 27th." Backs explained the date-setting process that is based partly on biology and partly on courtesy to hunters.
"Part of the reason we went to standardized dates years ago is it gave us the opportunity to set up the season dates ahead of time so those people who plan their vacations would know when the turkey season was," he said. "We based it on biological knowledge so that we would intercept the peak of the second gobbling period as well as when most of the hens were incubating."
Backs provides more detail about this year's April 27 opener and other turkey topics in a series of video clips that can be viewed on the DNR website at www.hunting.in.gov/6417.htm.
The same internet address also has the 2011 Turkey Hunting Guide containing information turkey hunters should know, including license requirements, bag limits, hunting hours and equipment regulations. It also has a comprehensive list of public hunting areas and contact information for DNR district wildlife biologists and DNR law enforcement districts.
The last time the spring turkey season opened on April 27 was 2005, and hunters set a harvest record of 11,159 birds. The next year, the season opened April 26 and hunters again set a record harvest of 13,193.
That record stood until last year when hunters set a new standard of 13,742 birds in a season that began on the earliest possible date April 21. This year's spring turkey season runs through May 15.
Hunters are allowed one bearded or male turkey. A wild turkey hunting license and a game bird habitat stamp are required unless the hunter is otherwise exempted. Exemptions are detailed in the online Turkey Hunting Guide.
Backs said he is cautiously optimistic about what hunters can expect this spring. "I'd like to project that we're probably going to kill around 13,000, 14,000 birds," he said. "If we fall below 13,000 birds, given the summer brood production stuff, I won't be surprised either.
"As usual, I tell people the highest percentage of the harvest occurs in the first five days of the season. However, if you don't like hunting with the crowds, I suggest you hunt during the second and third weeks where we have a lot less pressure and still have plenty of birds to harvest."