LITTLE ROCK — Strong winds may have dampened the sound of some gobblers last weekend, but there was no dampening the spirit of the youths participating in the 2021 Arkansas turkey youth hunt. Hunters 6 to 15 years old managed to harvest 813 birds between Saturday and Sunday’s hunts.
Jeremy Wood, AGFC turkey program coordinator, says the preliminary numbers are slightly below last year’s total of 889, but well above the 691 birds harvested in 2019.
Not only did the youth hunters do well in spite of breezy weather, the harvest focused on adult gobblers. Wood hopes the trend increases gobbler carryover into next year.
“Even though youths are allowed one immature gobbler as part of their two-bird seasonal limit, 79 percent of the turkeys checked during the youth hunt were mature birds,” Wood said. “Studies have shown jakes contribute very little, if any, to reproductive success in their first year, so the more of these birds that survive the spring hunting season, the better chance they have to breed hens and contribute to reproductive success next year.”
Hunters who look at current checked turkey totals through the AGFC’s website may notice some discrepancies between these totals and numbers available online.
“We have to use two vendors to manage the online checks, telephone checking and checking through the AGFC mobile app,” Wood said. “It can take a few days to update numbers from all the different sources.”
Wood reminds mentors that even though the youth hunt is over they can still take a youth any time during the season. This year, the AGFC enacted a new regulation that hunters may only take one turkey during the first seven days of the regular turkey season, but that does not include turkeys taken during the youth hunt.