Indiana’s 45th annual spring turkey hunting begins Wednesday statewide, and DNR wildlife research biologist Steve Backs is expecting harvest results similar to last year’s.
Hunters can kill one male or bearded turkey in the spring season, which runs throughMay 11. A two-day youth season this past weekend gave young hunters a chance to bag a bird before the regular season opened.
In 2013, hunters harvested 11,374 birds in 89 of Indiana’s 92 counties.
“I expect hunters to take 11,000 turkeys, plus or minus a thousand,” Backs said.
In addition to the normal hunting license required by Indiana law, hunters must also obtain a wild turkey stamp for an additional $25.
Cost of an annual hunting license — again, which doesn’t include turkey or deer — is $17 for an annual permit.
Also available to Indiana residents is a combination hunting and fishing license. That cost does not include the price of a turkey stamp.
Disabled veterans may obtain an annual hunting and fishing license for $2.75 or a 10-year permit for $27.50 although a turkey or deer stamp is not included in the purchase price.
For non-resident hunters coming to the Hoosier State, things are a bit more pricey. Non-resident hunting permits are $80 with a turkey stamp costing an additional $120 in the spring.
Youth hunters will have plenty of chances to experience the thrill of the hunt for wild turkey this season.
Youth age hunters, 17 and younger, can hunt wild turkey on April 19 and 20 according to the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources.
They can use any legal shotgun, bow and arrow or crossbow and they must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
IDNR rules say the adult may not possess any shotgun, bow and arrow or crossbow while in the field and must possess a valid turkey hunting license and game bird habitat stamp if they are participating in the hunt — calling turkeys for example — unless they are otherwise exempt from license requirements by state law.
Just as is the case during normal hunting season, the youth hunter is allowed to take only one bearded or male wild turkey during spring, which includes both the youth and regular spring turkey season.
The youth hunter must be properly licensed to take a wild turkey and comply with all bagging and check-in requirements.
For both youth and adult hunters the state defines legal equipment as a 10-, 12-, 16- or 20-gauge shotgun loaded with pellets of size No. 4, 5, 6, 7 or 7 1/2.
Hunters are also free to use bows and arrows and crossbows and muzzleloader shotguns.
The state requires muzzleloader shotguns to be no smaller than 20-gauge and no larger than 10-gauge loaded with pellets of the same sizes as regular shotguns.
DNR goes further saying combination loads using shot sizes other than these are illegal.
Hours for hunting wild turkeys continue to be one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. In all Indiana Fish and Wildlife Areas, Mississinewa and Salamonie lakes have spring season hours one-half hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. in the Eastern time Zone and until noon in the Central time zone.
Hunters are encouraged to contact the state property for any further questions.
There are a few other things to keep in mind when out hunting this spring. First and foremost is tagging your prey.
Immediately upon killing a turkey the hunter must complete a temporary transportation tag on paper stating the hunter’s full name, address, sex of the turkey, license number (if applicable) and the date the turkey was taken before being transported from the field.
The hunter must then register the bird at an official check-in station or on-line through the CheckInGame system (www.CheckINgame.DNR.IN.gov) or call 800-419-1326 within 48 hours of bagging their prize.
If hunters choose to appear at a check in station in person they will be given a permanent seal that must be affixed to the leg of the turkey.
If hunters choose to register their kill online, a confirmation number will be generated and must be recorded on the temporary transportation tag.
A printable online version of the temporary tag is available to hunters atwww.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/ifiles/turkeytag
Hunters are further reminded that it is illegal to possess or use a dog or another domesticated animal, live decoy, a recorded call, an electronically powered decoy or bait when hunting wild turkeys.
According to the DNR website, an area is considered baited for 10 days after the removal of the bail, but an area is not considered to be baited that is attractive to wild turkeys resulting from normal agricultural practices.
For more information hunters are encouraged to contact their local DNR office or visit their website at www.in.gov/dnr.