By Gary Joiner
TFB Radio Network Manager
Spring hunting in Texas for Rio Grande turkeys should be outstanding this year, according to state wildlife biologists.
“We had a great hatch in 2014 and another good hatch in 2015. So we’re really expecting to see a good number of mature birds out there this year. I’m looking forward to the spring season,” Jason Hardin, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department upland game bird specialist, told the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network.
Hardin said the department’s Small Game Harvest Report indicates turkey harvest was at an almost 10-year high last season. He said there were also a ton of 1-year-old Rio Grande turkeys running around this past spring, which should mean a great spring season in 2017. He said Eastern wild turkeys are also holding steady in places they are commonly found.
Hardin suggests hunters focus on riparian systems—springs, creeks and rivers—when chasing turkeys in the Lone Star State. He said all of the state’s massive Rio Grande range looks to be in good shape.
The estimated turkey population in Texas is about 580,000. The spring 2016 harvest was 23,281 birds.
Spring hunting for Rio Grande turkeys in the South Zone (54 counties) is March 18-April 30, and spring hunting for Rio Grande turkeys in the North Zone (101 counties) is April 1-May 14. The limit for each zone is four gobblers or bearded birds.
There is a special Rio Grande hunting zone with a one-turkey bag limit (10 counties) April 1-30.
The Eastern Turkey (15 counties) season is set for April 15-May 14, with a limit of one gobbler.