Georgia Turkey Hunters Hopeful For April Action

GON Hunt Advisor's provide gobbling updates and turkey population status reports from across the state.

GON Staff | April 4, 2021

As biologists propose changes for the next several Georgia turkey seasons (see page 14), hunters have been hitting the woods for what could be their last mid-March turkey chasing for at least a couple of years. April is when hens go to nest, and that typically leaves love-struck gobblers in search mode—and callable. That’s the hope of our Hunt Advisors. Here are their reports from across the state.

Avery Megel, 11, of Cumming, was hunting in Warren County with her dad, Truck-Buck sponsor Jonathan Megel, when she rolled her first-ever turkey. Congrats Avery!


Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “Great early start to this year’s turkey season. We started here in Cherokee on the youth weekend March 13-14, which may be the last year we get to do that due to next year’s proposed season changes. But hey, we will cherish the moments of the past and move on to what comes next.

“We got some early March pictures of some longbeards which had us way excited for the first morning out. The birds were roosting in a mix of pines and hardwoods. Roost gobbling began around 7:15 a.m. that day with fly-down about 15 to 20 minutes later. My twin grandsons and I were set up together, and I had done some soft calls just to mix in with the rest of the hens that were talking. We saw some of the fly-down action at a distance, and before you know it, we had eight blue and red heads in our lap. We put our camo to the ultimate test that morning. The birds were all young, sporting about 2-inch beards. Three of them got within 8 to 10 feet of us, which was way cool. They looked at the decoys and with no wind to move them around, the young-uns hesitated and then walked back the way they came. About 60 yards out we saw two big boys all fanned out with some of their lady friends.

Chase Goddard, 16, of Ball Ground, with his Cherokee County gobbler.

“The next morning the birds roosted farther away with not as much gobbling as the morning before. Things got quiet after around 7:45 a.m. It was obvious the birds had somewhere else on their minds after coming off roost. We heard nothing until around 9 a.m., when at a distance a couple of gobblers sounded off. That hunt ended with some hens and two longbeards putting on a show. Chase was able to take his first turkey, which sported a 9 1/2-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.

“With all the rain and temps up and down, the gobbling has been on and off, mostly off, for the last two weeks. I’m seeing lone hens out on their own, which normally doesn’t happen until middle of April or later. Looking at dogwoods around here in north Cherokee, peak gobbling should take place the first week in April. On a side note, if you are planning to hunt some of the mountain WMAs, control burns have taken place and turkeys are definitely being affected by it. I had four longbeards scouted out on Rich Mountain WMA and they burned the area about two weeks ago, bye-bye turkey!

“Till next time, be safe, stay calm and hunt on.”

It was an exciting morning in Heard County for Adam Littleton, of Carrollton. “I heard the toms gobble at daybreak about 150 yards away from me,” Adam said. “A few minutes later this coyote walked right by me. I figured it would mess up my hunt, but I’d rather kill this coyote than let him kill some turkeys. About 25 minutes after I shot the coyote, I called in four toms and shot one at 25 yards. It was a great hunt. I figured I wouldn’t even see a bird after I shot the coyote, but I was wrong.”

Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “Well another turkey season is here, and hopefully it’s going to be better than the previous season. I got out and did a little scouting the couple of weekends before the youth and disabled weekend, and heard a few gobbles and found some promising sign. I had a terrific young man with the Outdoor Dream Foundation coming to hunt with me, and I wanted to make sure it was worth his trip. His name is Heath Woodard, from Perry, and his mom Dottie brought him up to spend the weekend and hopefully get a bird. I wanted to help get him a bird so bad, and we hunted long and hard both days. This young man was in Atlanta getting infusions all day the day before our hunt, and he hung tough the whole weekend. The first morning we heard some roost gobbling, and things went quiet after fly-down. We pretty much hunted all day, except for a run home for lunch, and all I managed to call in was one lone hen. The second morning we got in the woods a little earlier because I wanted to get closer to where I thought they would be, and the woods were silent, not even a crow calling. Around 9 a.m. a hen answered from behind us and was closing quickly. When she got to the edge of the food plot where I had two hen decoys setup, she stopped a started putting on a calling clinic. I could just barely see her, but Heath was turned more to the left and could see a little better. He said there was a gobbler back behind her, but she didn’t want to share him,  turned and carried him back up the ridge. I’m going to have Heath back up the April 5-6 while he out for spring break. Hopefully things will be rocking by then.

“Opening weekend brought cold temperatures and wind, and that Saturday morning I heard two birds gobble a total of five times between them. I hunted until lunch but didn’t hunt the evening because of the wind. The next morning I decided to slip in close to the bird I heard above me the previous morning, and right on cue, he gobbled after good light. I knew where he was roosted, and I knew I could get closer without bumping him if he didn’t get on the ground first. By the time I got settled in, it was time to call. I made a few soft yelps on my box, and he responded. I waited a couple minutes and called on a diaphragm, and he cut my call, and believe me, if he cuts my diaphragm calling, he is ready to die. I didn’t call to him again, and 10 minutes later he gobbled twice on the ground and maybe two minutes later he was in front of me.”

Hunt Advisor Keith Ingram, of Comer, got his gobbler on March 21 in Madison County.

“The gobblers do seem to be separating, but there’s very little gobbling in the tree or on the ground, and I believe they are getting with the hens straight off the roost. The weekend of the 27th and 28th, I didn’t go to the woods to hunt but to just listen and scout for when my buddy from Perry gets back up to hunt. The gobbling has been very slow, and our numbers seem to still be on the decline. I doubt I will take another gobbler off our club, but I sure would like to get one in front of Heath. What hunting I do after that will be on public land more than likely. I do hope the changes that are being discussed will help. I’m all for some drastic measures, until the numbers are up and stable again, if that’s possible.”



Chuck Morgan’s season started great when he got to work this Gordon County gobbler for several hours. The 20-lb., 8-oz. bird finally came in with another longbeard and several jakes.

Check out those hooks! And that GON hat! Sawyer Phillips, 8, of Madison, was hunting with his Papa Joe in Morgan County on March 14 when he killed a giant gobbler. The bird weighed 24.36 pounds, had an 11 1/2-inch beard and 1 1/2-inch spurs.


Meriwether County: Jeff Scurry, of Fayetteville, reports, “Opening weekend was very slow in Meriwether County. Windy conditions seem to affect activity all weekend. Did not see or hear anything opening weekend on two hunts.

“I personally haven’t seen the turkey numbers or signs this year, even on trail cameras. The numbers seem to be down from what I have normally seen in the past. Later in the week on my third sit I did hear one gobble on the adjacent property at daybreak and wound up calling in two jakes and later hens that appeared around 10 a.m. Then on Thursday I was able to get on a bird.”

Hunt Advisor Jeff Scurry got a double-bearded gobbler on opening week in Meriwether County.

Monroe County: Greg Grimes, of Ball Ground, reports, “In the past, the turkeys left our 155 acres come March. This seems to not have changed. Up to a dozen longbeards can be seen during the deer season. This move is due to a lack of good nesting cover. We have made some changes, but it might not be enough. Beautiful hardwoods are pretty to look at, but you need nearby thickets or early successional habitat.

“Lucky for me Matt Duffey does have some thick cover and allowed us to hunt there. We hunted the youth opener there and were able to see some hens but didn’t hear a single bird. Matt said his turkeys have stayed in large winter flocks until recently when they started to split into mating flocks. Gobblers are starting to travel more and are seen alone earlier. Large food plots and fields are being used heavy in afternoons for strutting and feeding. He said gobbling has been slow, and usually only while on roost. He’s expecting gobbling to increase very soon with warmer weather moving in.”

The Monroe County gobblers were hammering coming off the roost on March 26. Matt Duffey was working those birds when this 2-year-old came in silent.

“Once the gobblers that left our property have serviced neighboring hens, I think they will be back, as we do have good turkey food plots, and we just burned two blocks of timber that they should like. I have seen one gobbler that was back on camera March 23. We are optimistic.

“I think the population is down for many people, but it is still so much fun to play the game with them when they are willing to give you a chance. I think April will see gobblers not as henned-up and looking for love. Get out there and enjoy God’s creation as it comes alive this spring. ”

Success for Russell Johnson in Gordon County. “The birds were quiet opening weekend for the most part, but I finally found one that would cooperate around 12:30 on Monday!” Russell said.


Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Vienna, reports, “Let me see if I can find something good to say about these Crisp County turkeys. For the most part they have been very quiet. We did have a couple of days opening week when we heard some gobbling and saw a strutter from a distance but didn’t get him to commit to come in close enough. A couple of birds gobbled while still on the roost about 7:30, then flying down at 8, but they were silent after hitting the ground. There is lots of scratching going on around the base of the pines close to the roosting areas. They have been roosting in the trees over rain-filled bottoms. Some days they were completely silent after fly-down and fired up around 9.”

Hunt Advisor Jodi Manders with the Crisp County gobbler she killed during a quick hunt on March 25. Her husband Randy did the calling, and the bird came in gobbling and strutting.

“I did close the deal on one on the 25th after a short 20-minute hunt. My husband Randy called him in shortly after fly-down. He came in strutting and gobbling. Hopefully they won’t be as hard to hunt the rest of the season as they have been already. Hope you all have a successful season. Hunt safe, God Bless!”

Early County: Sam Klement reports, “As I write this March 22, our birds in southwest Georgia are still very henned-up. This past weekend I had my longtime hunting buddy Ricky Joe Bishop down to my Hooch place near Blakely to chase turkeys for the weekend. Ricky Joe and I got on a good gobbling bird opening day just after daylight. We did not hear a single bird at first light due to high winds. We thought maybe we heard one off in a bottom 250 yards away from our first listening spot. Ricky Joe and I were prospecting and slipping down some fresh firebreaks when first a hen started cutting at my calls. Within seconds of getting her fired up, we had at least one bird gobbling great! This bird gobbled and spit and drummed with the flock to within 50 yards, unfortunately no ethical shot was presented. We hung in there with this bird until the hens took him off our property.

“Sunday we owl hooted just before daylight and had one gobble back no more than 75 yards away in a hardwood bottom. He was with hens, and we heard them all fly out of the trees and work away from our setup. Chalk one up for the gobbler! We hunted till lunch and could never get within gun range of this flock.

“On opening youth season for Georgia I had the pleasure, along with Realtree’s Spring Thunder co-host Phillip Culpepper and Ricky Joe Bishop, of hunting with our deceased lifelong dear friend Country Singer Daryle Singletary’s twin 10-year-old boys. Daryle passed away three years ago, and last year we started taking the two boys turkey hunting. Jonah Singletary killed his first gobbler last year, so that made Mercer up to bat for opening day. The birds on this tract were very henned-up. Long story short, after an unsuccessful opening morning, we roosted a flock of turkeys Saturday night. Mercer ended up shooting his first turkey after it flew off the roost on Sunday morning.”

(Left to right) Realtree camerman Drake Lamb, GON Hunt Advisor Sam Klement, Mercer Singletary, Jonah Singletary and Phillip Culpepper of Spring Thunder pose with Mercer’s first turkey shot in Early County during Georgia’s youth weekend.

“After some high fives and congratulations we went to another southwest Georgia tract and struck two more mid-morning gobblers and worked these two with approximately a half-dozen hens into range for Jonah, who unfortunately missed. We joked with Jonah and said welcome to his daddy’s club! Or those of you who haven’t seen any Daryle Singletary hunts on YouTube, Daryle had a history for many years of missing turkeys we hunted, so much so that I nicknamed him Double Barrel Daryle. Jonah was a sport about it and said, ‘There is always next year!’

“My tip to fellow southwest Georgia turkey hunters is to be prepared to crank up the calls and get aggressive with these hens. I don’t feel like we would have gotten Mercer’s bird or Jonah a shot if we would not have called loud and often on these hunts. We angered the hens, and they brought in the gobblers with them in tow. As the days go on and get longer, these hens will start to nest and the gobblers will become more vocal and a tad bit easier to call in. Stay safe out there! Enjoy all your friends and making memories, that’s what its all about for me at this point in my ballgame. A turkey is a bonus. Huntin is Good!”

Scott Gossard, of Buford, used his .30 caliber air rifle to take this Taliaferro County longbeard on March 21.

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “I’m lucky to have access to three Harris County tracts for turkey hunting—two small parcels which are very much hit-or-miss and a 790-acre timber company lease where my sons and I usually spend the majority of our hunting hours. Like most timber company land that experiences fairly frequent logging, this lease has always been a property where you had to work for your birds. But, up until about five years ago, you could usually kill a couple of toms and sometimes take your limit, if you hunted hard throughout the season. Multiple factors combined to essentially decimate the turkey population on this property a few years ago—coyotes arrived and multiplied in significant numbers, raccoon populations exploded around supplemental feeding for deer, and our lease agreement prohibited all trapping—but the biggest impact resulted from the logging of approximately 80% of the old-growth hardwoods on the property. This major habitat change had a huge impact as evidenced by only one gobbler being killed on this entire 790-acre property in the years since that hardwood logging operation—a period of approximately five years—and that one tom was killed within 100 yards of the property line, adjacent to private property containing mature, old-growth hardwoods. But us turkey hunters are a hard-headed bunch, so we continue to hunt—and hope!

“My youngest son, Jake, is an experienced hunter but new to turkey hunting, so I sat with him in a blind overlooking a wheat and clover food plot on the second morning of the season. We aggravated several hens bad enough right off the roost that two of them came in with a gobbler silently in tow. Unfortunately, the gobbler stayed just behind our blind, where we had no windows open, of course, spitting and drumming, until they eventually all wandered off. Subsequent hunts during the first week of the season resulted in no turkeys seen and no gobbles heard on this property, so we plan to start spending some time on the two smaller Harris County tracts we have access to.”

Craig Tankersley, of Flowery Branch, killed this gobbler opening day in Hancock County. The bird weighed 23.7 pounds and had five beards totaling 33.125 inches.

Muscogee County: Jimmy Harper reports, “I’m blessed once again to have access to turkey hunt on a beautiful 185-acre tract of private dirt in Muscogee County where the landowner spends considerable time, effort and money year-round in order to maximize the farm’s hunting potential. From enforcing specialized reduced gobbler harvest limits, to planting chufa, to conducting controlled burns, to trapping predators—everything possible is done on this small property to make it as good as it can be for the resident turkey population. There are only two of us who regularly hunt turkeys on this property—the landowner and myself—and we’ve gone as far as to self-impose a one-gobbler limit for each of us, plus we’ll only shoot mature toms. Additionally, during this past trapping season, two dozen raccoons were removed from this small property, along with several coyotes and a couple of possums. Control burns were completed on multiple fields comprising approximately 20 acres total. The stage was set for this turkey season, especially after we had watched a group of six jakes day after day last spring, all the while dreaming of them having grown into a half-dozen aggressive 2-year old birds this year. Then reality struck.

“As of opening day of the 2021-2022 turkey season, there were only two of those jakes left on this farm as 2-year old toms. Because of that, the landowner and I decided to go a step further and restrict our turkey hunting to archery gear only again this season, just as we did last season. After a quiet opening day of hunting a large field on this farm, I was able to call both of those toms to within 30 yards of my blind a half-hour after fly-down the first Monday of the season. I enjoyed their strutting and gobbling show for almost an hour, but they got to walk away for us to hunt another day simply because they never came within the 20-yard limit I’ve set for myself when hunting turkeys with my Mathews bow.

“The fact that I didn’t kill one of those gobblers doesn’t concern me a great deal; we have a long turkey season in Georgia so I should get another chance. I called two mature gobblers into easy shotgun range, I got to watch two of God’s most beautiful creatures demonstrate their version of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ and I had fun! What does concern me is that a property where 3-bird limits were fairly common for two turkey hunters just a few short years ago no longer even has three mature gobblers roaming anywhere on it for multiple, successive years. And this was after adequate, local hatches with good jake populations being physically observed during prior years, and with the property itself, as well as the properties surrounding it, actually being improved from a habitat perspective. Something is killing our turkeys—the actual birds, not just the eggs in the nests, although nest predators are obviously a significant problem on many properties. And it’s not just us hunters doing the killing, because turkeys are disappearing from good habitat outside of hunting seasons. As a hunter, I certainly want to protect this resource for future generations, but doesn’t the real cause of the problem need to be positively identified before we even start talking about implementing solutions such as delaying the start of turkey season?”

Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Who would have thought this time last year that life would change so much? It’s great to be a hunter these days—well it’s always been great to me, but more people are realizing how great it is to be outdoors. Now if the turkeys will cooperate that would be nice. I had to work a bass tournament trail opening day, so I didn’t get in the woods till Monday, but I could have stayed home and heard just as many gobbles. Same for Tuesday, too. I talked to a guy at the gas pumps up from Florida since opening day, and he finally heard a bird Tuesday morning and sealed the deal.

“Wednesday me and my daughter Laci went to my club and had a bird strutting on the limb about 80 yards from us. He dropped down and followed the hens right by us at 10 yards and that turned out to be too close for the 20 gauge she was shooting. Yep, clean miss, but another great misadventure for us. It wasn’t her first time missing a longbeard and probably won’t be her last because they really shake her up, and that’s what it’s all about.

“I hunted Beaverdam WMA and never heard a bird but did see some good sign and saw a hen. The food plots look good, so kudos to the WRD folks over there for their hard work.

“I hope the changes that are coming from DNR will help bring back the turkeys we had in the 90s, but with all the new predators out there now, it’s doubtful. But it should at least help.

“Hope everyone has an awesome season and healthy life.”

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