Commission considers expanding youth turkey-hunting opportunities
Proposals to take to public meetings will be chosen in July
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is considering a proposal to expand youth-only turkey hunting from one to six days.
At the Commission’s May 3 meeting in Raleigh, commissioners agreed to consider these changes to 2012-2013 regulations that could be taken to public meetings in the fall:
* Extending the current Youth Day from the first Saturday in April to the next Friday;
* Allow a non-hunting adult to take and monitor multiple young hunters instead of one hunter;
* Eliminate the one-turkey daily bag limit and allow a hunter to kill his season’s bag limit of two turkeys during one day.
According to Mallory Martin, the Commission’s assistant director, decisions concerning which proposals to take to the public will be voted on in July.
“These were brought forth for consideration, and that will happen, then they’ll be voted on during the July meeting,” he said.
Dr. David Cobb, director of the Commission’s Division of Wildlife Management, confirmed that the proposed changes have been on the agency’s radar for about a month, although they did not come from his staff.
“They were discussed at the Big Game Committee Meeting (on May 2),” he said. “They came through public comment. It’s not a recommendation the (staff) made, and it’s not from a commissioner, as far as I know.
“There is a possibility they won’t be approved to take to public hearings.”
Cobb said he had talked to biologist Evin Stanford, who oversees the Commission’s big-game program, about the proposed changes and their potential results.
“Evin … has been asked, and he and I have worked together to determine the potential biological impact of these changes,” Cobb said.
The North Carolina chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has opposed previous attempts to open the spring season a week earlier, but Marshall Collette of Greensboro, a past president of the state chapter, said he doesn’t have major objections to a week-long youth-only season. He said North Carolina has such a large statewide flock (260,000 birds), it could stand the extra week of pressure from young hunters.
“I don’t see why not,” Collette said. “Look at South Carolina; they have 95,000 wild turkeys (estimated) and allow hunters to kill five a year. We have 260,000 turkeys and are only allowed to take two birds. I think (our flock) could support at least a slightly larger harvest.”
He did have a couple of concerns.
“My first thought is, this will hurt the jake (juvenile male turkey) population,” he said. “Kids don’t have the patience to wait for a tom with an 11-inch beard’; they’ll take the first male bird that comes along, and that’s usually a jake – and I’m okay with that. You want to get more kids involved in hunting. And it doesn’t bother me a bit for a kid to hunt a week (earlier) than the rest of us. But it does bother me a little this appears to be a way to push the season-opening date up a week.
“The other question is, ‘Will this season occur during spring break (for schools)? If it’s not spring break, how many parents will take their kids out of school to go hunting?”
Sportsman may make comments on the proposals on the Commission’s web site, www.ncwildlife.org.
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