Photo of the author with a big Georgia gobbler taken during the 2021 season.

Season dates and regulations have been set for the 2024 Georgia turkey season, and the season structure and regulations are nearly identical to last season.

The 2024 Georgia turkey season will open Saturday, March 30 on private lands and Saturday, April 6 on public lands, and will wrap up May 15 statewide.

Keep in mind that each of Georgia’s 100+ wildlife management areas (WMAs) has specific season dates and rules, so check the current hunting regulations before heading out to your favorite WMA.

Youth hunters (age 16 and under) continue to have a one-week jump start on the season with a March 23-24 Special Opportunity Season on private lands only.

Turkey SeasonSeason Dates
Special Opportunity Youth/Mobility ImpairedMarch 23-24, 2024
Statewide (Private Land)March 30 – May 15, 2024
Statewide (Public Lands)*April 6 – May 15, 2024
* Each Georgia WMA has its own season dates and regulations, so be sure to check the current hunting regulations for the WMA you intend to hunt before heading afield.

NOTE: If you don’t live in Georgia, be sure to check out our Nonresident’s Guide to Georgia Turkey Hunting for additional information.


Georgia’s Turkey Harvest Decline

A graph of the last 20 years of Georgia's turkey harvest.

Based on 2021 data, the overall Georgia turkey harvest has declined from a high of over 40,000 birds in 2005 to just 11,909 in 2023. Subsequently, the harvest rate (turkeys harvested per hunter) has dropped from an average of over 0.65 to a low of 0.29 in 2022 (I don’t have 2023 data for this).

Graph of the turkey harvest rate for 2001 to 2022.

So Georgia hunters, as a whole, are killing less than a third of the turkeys we once did. If you’ve hunted turkeys for very long, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the decline.

But it’s not just a Georgia issue.

Turkey populations appear to be declining across much of the southeast, and many states are starting to take reactive measures.

Recent Changes to Georgia’s Turkey Season

In response to the steady decline in turkey numbers and hunter success, the Georgia DNR made some aggressive changes for the 2022 spring turkey season that are in still in effect for 2024, including:

  • A one-week delay in the season opener on private land and an additional week delay on public lands.
  • Reduced the season bag limit from three to two gobblers
  • Reduced the daily bag limit to one bird per day
  • Reduced the WMA bag limit to one bird per hunter per WMA

Best Counties to Kill a Turkey

Just because Georgia turkey numbers have been on the decline for a while, doesn’t mean there isn’t great turkey hunting to enjoy in the Peach State. However, some counties and public lands offer higher odds of success than others.

The Piedmont and Upper Coastal Plain regions of Georgia have consistently produced the highest turkey harvests over the last two decades. But on a local level, several counties in northwest Georgia actually lead the statewide harvest.

Graph of Georgia's turkey harvest by physiographic region, 2010-2022.

Georgia’s top turkey-producing counties in that area for 2023 were:

  1. Polk County — 258 birds
  2. Floyd County — 249 birds
  3. Burke County — 244 birds
  4. Bartow County — 240 birds
  5. Gilmer County — 206 birds

For detailed county-by-county turkey harvest data, check out Georgia DNR’s Interactive Turkey Harvest Map.

Public Land Turkey Hunting

If you don’t have access to private land, there are plenty of public land options for Peach State turkey hunters. Georgia hunters are fortunate enough to have access to over 1 million acres of public hunting land spread over 100 wildlife management areas and two national forests.

Some of these WMAs only allow turkey hunting through a quota system, while others are open for anyone who wants to sign in and hunt. More about the quota hunt system below.

Graph of Georgia WMA turkey harvest 2001-2022.

In 2022, both hunter and harvest numbers decreased on WMAs. 11,452 hunters signed in, a 28% decrease from 2021. These hunters harvested 556 gobblers, down 48% from 2021’s total harvest. Jakes comprised 19% of the WMA harvest.

Overall, hunters had a success rate of 4.9% on wildlife management
areas in Georgia. In 2022, Hunter satisfaction among public land hunters was 52%, a significant decrease from previous years.

Georgia’s Best Public Land Turkey Hunting

While I can’t cover every public land option in this one article, what I can do is hit the areas with the highest turkey harvests last season to give you a potential starting point. But keep in mind that the overall turkey harvest on a property doesn’t paint the whole picture.

The size of the property and the total number of hunters using it are also important factors in determining how good the turkey hunting truly is. For example, more turkeys were killed on the Chattahoochee National Forest than any other public land, but when you consider the massive size of the forest, other WMAs actually produce more turkeys per acre.

With that in mind, here are some of the top Georgia public lands for turkey hunting in terms of total harvest:

Public Land2023 Turkey Harvest
Chattahoochee National Forest174
Fort Stewart58
Oconee National Forest32
Paulding Forest WMA32
Pine Log WMA30
Piedmont NWR26
Coopers Creek24
Redlands WMA24
Dawson Forest WMA23
Fort Gordon20

Applying for Georgia Quota Turkey Hunts

As I mentioned earlier, many of Georgia’s best public land turkey hunting opportunities are quota hunts. That means you must apply for the hunt prior to turkey season and be drawn in order to participate.

Each year you apply for a hunt and don’t get drawn, you will earn a preference point, which improves your odds of being drawn in future seasons. The best hunts will probably take two to four years to draw.

You can see the odds of drawing specific hunts based on previous years on the Georgia DNR’s website at this link.

That application period for quota turkey hunts begins June 1 each year with a deadline of February 15. The DNR typically conducts the drawing and notifies everyone a day or two following the deadline.

Summary

While the “good old days” of Georgia turkey hunting may be in the past, there are still plenty of opportunities to have a great hunt in the Peach State. And who knows, maybe the shift to more conservative season dates and bag limits will turn the tide on the declining turkey population. Regardless, I’ll be out there on April 1 listening intently for that first gobble of the spring season.

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3 Comments

  1. Turkey hunters should wear hunters florescent outer clothing for identification purposes while hunting on or near private property…

  2. You are obviously NOT a turkey hunter. They can see you blink at a 100 yards, and you want people to dress up like a christmas tree. Like the old saying goes “it’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

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