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Hunter weighs in on new turkey hunting regulations for 2023 spring season

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission made these changes after reports of decreasing turkey populations.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Thousands of East Tennesseans await to leave winter behind and dive into wooded areas, fields and anything in between to hunt turkeys.  

Durand Carmany has been hunting for about 30 years. He started hunting when he was very young and it soon turned into a tradition. 

Carmany often gathers up the family and goes turkey hunting. Both his children learned when they were very young. 

"Turkey hunting is one of my passions right along with a lot of my friends and family," Carmany said. "My wife hunts... my daughter and my son, they both hunt."

Credit: Durand Carmany
Durand Carmany returns from hunting with his son.

But this year Carmany will have to wait two more weeks for his hunting trip. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced new regulations in regard to turkey hunting ahead of the 2023 season.

The changes were made to benefit the state's wild turkey population, according to the TWRA.

The spring turkey season will open two weeks later than in previous years and the bag limit has been reduced from three birds to two birds and only one burd can be a juvenile or jake. 

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission made these changes after reports of decreasing turkey populations. The statewide delay is meant to improve reproduction and nesting success among turkeys.

"We're trying to increase that population back to its former size and improve the overall health of our population," Matt Cameron, TWRA spokesperson said. "It's more of a reproductive issue, recruitment issue... the turkeys aren't making it to adulthood and they're not really sure what's driving that what's causing it."

Credit: Durand Carmany
Durand Carmany with his daughter at one of their turkey hunting adventures.

About the new regulations, Carmany said there are mixed feelings among hunters. He said his focus is on those "future flavors" that await him and his family at the dinner table.

"You know where it came from. You know how... you've earned it. You know, you took that turkey," he said. 

Credit: Durand Carmany
The Carmany bunch!

New turkey regulations will be in effect on select Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and hunters should check each WMA they hunt in the 2022-23 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide.

This will be the fourth spring turkey season to “Tag Before You Drag” where hunters tag their big game animal in the field prior to moving. Hunters are able to use the "TWRA on the Go" app to E-tag and report their harvest in the field, with or without cell phone service, prior to moving.

If you do not have a phone, attach one of the temporary transportations tags that are printed at the bottom of your license this year, and you have until midnight on the same day of the harvest (or before leaving the state) to check in your harvest online at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com or at one of several manned check stations. Temporary transportation tags can also be obtained by logging in at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com.

The spring turkey season will begin Saturday, April 15.

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