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Turkey hunting      LITTLE ROCK – Turkey season may open at the beginning of April, but now is the time to begin your planning for a successful season. One of the best ways to be successful on public land is to apply for one of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s wildlife management area turkey hunt permits beginning Jan. 15. Applications are available through the AGFC’s online licensing system at https://ar-web.s3licensing.com.

Many good public turkey hunting opportunities exist, particularly on the large cooperative WMAs owned by the U.S. Forest Service. However, turkeys and turkey hunters need room to spread out, which can lead to conflicts between hunters on some smaller WMAs. To increase the quality of the hunt on some of the most popular public areas, the AGFC restricts the number of hunters allowed during turkey season through random drawings.

Only permit holders may hunt on the WMA during the permit hunt. However, a permit holder can have a friend alongside them to call for them to help them harvest a bird. Friends and family may camp with permit holders at designated campsites on the WMA.

“Spring is a great time to be out in the woods with family and friends, and we want to help keep that tradition going, even if only one person is hunting,” said Jason Honey, Turkey Program coordinator for the AGFC.

Applications are taken electronically through http://www.agfc.com, from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15, and winning applicants will be notified via email.

Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee, but winning applicants are not required to pay any additional fees other than the purchase of their hunting license.

“The new system was put in place last year, and really streamlined the application and draw process,” said Brad Carner, chief of wildlife management for the AGFC. “Each year, many permits were left unclaimed because people applied who did not go through with purchasing the permit. With the up-front fee, only people who are serious about claiming and using a permit are likely to apply.”

Carner says the new system saw a decrease in the number of applicants to the AGFC’s permit draws for all species which was expected, but harvest numbers and participation in the hunts remained high.

“We received some reports from our staff of noticeable increases in participation for some hunts,” Carner said. “And with the streamlining of the process, unclaimed permits were minimal when it came time to sell them, which resulted in much less confusion.”

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The AGFC youth camp at Lake Sylvia was an ideal setting for young hunters and their parents to learn the ropes of turkey hunting.

The AGFC youth camp at Lake Sylvia was an ideal setting for young hunters and their parents to learn the ropes of turkey hunting.

Seven lucky youth hunters were selected to participate in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Youth Turkey Camp April 15-16 at Lake Sylvia in Perry County.

The camp, now in its fourth year, was created to help introduce those youths with no outdoor mentor to the sport of turkey hunting.

AGFC Regional Education Coordinator Jason Hooks said many of the traditions historically handed down from parent-to-child or grandparent-to-child have been lost as people’s attentions has been devoted to other pursuits in urban settings.

“So many of these kids and even their parents have never been introduced to turkey hunting,” said Hooks. “Some have never been camping or stayed in a tent before. Hopefully this sparks their interest.”

Cade Johnson of Cabot harvested a nice 20year-old gobbler during teh 2016 youth turkey camp at Lake Sylvia.

Cade Johnson of Cabot harvested a nice 2-year-old gobbler during the 2016 youth turkey camp at Lake Sylvia.

Participants are required to complete Hunter Education before attending camp. A parent also is required to attend the camp with the youth hunter. Hunters must be 12 to 15 years old to participate.

“Kids can start hunting turkeys and other big game in Arkansas at age 6, and most kids whose parents are already turkey hunters likely will take them before they’re 12,” said Hooks. “But this camp is for those youths and parents who don’t know how or where to get started.”

Participants meet for dinner Friday afternoon before opening day of the youth hunt. They learn about turkey identification, different types of turkey calls and hunting techniques. They also learn about turkey biology, gun safety and other aspects of the hunt few people think about unless they’ve been taught by a mentor. The evening wraps up with dinner and hunting tales around a campfire.

“We’ll get up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. the next morning to put that knowledge to use and hunt some birds,” Hooks said.

AGFC staff and hunter education instructors volunteer to take the young hunters and a parent out to the woods for a hunt.

This year’s lucky hunter was Cade Johnson from Cabot. Johnson, who participates in the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, was able to take a 2-year-old gobbler the morning of the hunt.

Hooks says the event would not be possible without the help of many men and women who are concerned with the future of turkey hunting in Arkansas.

“Many of the volunteers are members of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which also helps sponsor the hunt,” Hooks said. “We also get help from Bass Pro Shops, Quaker Boy Game Calls, Lynch Traditions Turkey Calls Jim Pollard Elite Calls and Natural Gear Camouflage.”

Contact Jason Hooks at 501-251-7839 or email Jason.Hooks@agfc.ar.gov for more information about the AGFC Youth Turkey Camp at Lake Sylvia.

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Apply now for a turkey permit hunt.

Apply now for a turkey permit hunt.

Hunters may now apply for limited permits on several Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas for the 2016 turkey season.

Many WMAs offer special permit youth hunts as well as standard permit hunts. Click here for a list of available permits.

Many WMAs offer special permit youth hunts as well as standard permit hunts. Click here for a list of available permits.

April may seem like an eternity for dyed-in-the-wool turkey hunters, but now is the time to start the process of bagging your bird on public land.

Jason Honey, turkey program coordinator for the AGFC, says access to many popular wildlife management areas must be restricted using a permit draw to prevent overcrowding.

Applications will only be processed from Dec. 15, 2015 until Jan. 15, 2016. Applicants will be notified of their application status in late February. Permit winners must pay a processing fee of $10.

Click here to apply

Many WMA's have different season dates than their surrounding zones. Click here to look at the available hunts and dates.

Many WMA’s have different season dates than their surrounding zones. Click here to look at the available hunts and dates.

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Hunting traditions have historically been passed down through families, but as the modern family evolves, bridging the gap between veteran and beginning hunter has become a challenge for all conservation agencies. Through its youth turkey camp, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission introduces young people to turkey hunting at its annual youth turkey camp in the Ouachita National Forest.

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Keep up with the turkey harvest online

Click the image to find up-to-date turkey harvest information.

Click the image to find up-to-date turkey harvest information.

During the 2015 Arkansas Youth Turkey Hunt, hunters under 16 bagged and checked 1,280 birds in two days. Since then, adult turkey hunters have been hitting the woods hard for their chance at a trophy tom. Want to know how many turkeys have been checked so far? Just click below for a real-time link to the 2015 turkey harvest reports.

Click here for 2015 Harvest Totals

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Click here to apply beginning 8 a.m., March 23.

Click here to apply beginning 8 a.m., March 23.

Leftover WMA Turkey Hunt Permits go on sale beginning 8 a.m., Monday, March 23. This year we are implementing a special queue system to help prevent crashes and overloads from increased web traffic. When you click to enter the permit process, you will receive a brief explanation of the queue and how it works. When you click to proceed from that page, you will be “in line” with an indicator of how many people are in front of you. When it’s your turn, you will have 10 minutes to choose a permit and complete your purchase. After 10 minutes your place in line cannot be guaranteed.
If you wish to buy additional permits, you must go back through the queue. This is to ensure as many people as possible have a chance to get a leftover permit.
the list of leftover permits is available at http://www.agfc.com/lic…/Documents/LeftoverTurkeyPermits.pdf
The queue will begin at 8 a.m., Wednesday morning at the following link: http://static.ark.org/agfc/permitting.html

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Click to apply for Arkansas WMA Turkey Hunting Permit.

The first drawing of WMA turkey hunting permits is complete. Click here to check your status and pay by Feb. 9.

The first WMA turkey hunt permit draw is complete. Applicants can visit https://www.ark.org/agfc/permitting/status.php to check their draw status and pay for permits.

Anglers who drew have until February 9 to pay the $10 processing fee to obtain their permit. After that, all unclaimed permits will be placed back in the pool, and a second drawing will be held for those applicants who did not draw during the first round. Unclaimed permits from that round of drawings will be placed in a first-come, first-served online sale March 23.

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