LITTLE ROCK — With turkey season only weeks away, many hunters are already getting antsy to scout some new territory for the season. This year also may be the year many new hunters decide to take to the turkey woods for a healthy alternative to cabin fever. Here are a few top prospects for hunters to scout before the youth turkey hunt April 11-12 and opening day on April 13.
The name of the game when it comes to turkey hunting is space. Putting some distance between you and the next hunter is essential to get your chance at a bird this spring. Setting up too close to another hunter can spook the birds and, even worse, shut down the natural gobbling that will take place. Luckily, Arkansas has nearly 3.2 million acres of publicly accessible land for hunters to spread out and search for a bird of their own.
According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s 2019 Arkansas Annual Turkey Report, the following wildlife management areas had the highest turkey harvest:
Ozark National Forest WMA (126,889 acres) — 67 harvested gobblers
Sylamore WMA (170,000 acres) — 63 harvested gobblers
Muddy Creek WMA (146,202 acres) — 60 harvested gobblers
Winona WMA (160,000 acres) — 45 harvested gobblers
Mount Magazine WMA (120,000 acres) — 39 harvested gobblers
In addition to being some of the AGFC’s largest WMAs, each of these areas is open to turkey hunting during the season without a specially drawn permit. A free General Use WMA Permit and valid hunting license are all that’s needed to hunt any of these properties.
“We have smaller WMAs where hunters have decent success, but we must manage them through drawn permits to keep them from becoming too crowded for a quality hunt,” said Jeremy Wood, turkey program coordinator