Gobbling Reports For 2019 Turkey Season Opener

Hunt advisors report on gobbling and turkey activity from across the state during the 2019 opening weekend of turkey season.

Daryl Kirby | March 26, 2019

If nothing else, Georgia turkey hunters were blessed with a gorgeous March weekend for the turkey season opener. Turns out the hunting was pretty good, too.

The mornings were chilly, and that may have dampened the gobbling activity from the roost a bit in some areas, but the temperatures warmed up, and both Saturday and Sunday were beautiful. The gobblers and the turkey hunters liked the midday conditions—we heard lots of reports of birds killed later in the mornings, and through midday and during afternoon hunts.

Based on reports from GON’s Hunt Advisor team, turkey numbers appear to be up from past seasons, and all our experts are looking forward to a better hunting season than the past few—with the best gobbling and hunting still to come.

Here are reports from across the state.


Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “It sure is good to get back in the woods. Let’s start with youth weekend, March 16-17. The mornings are still cold here in north Cherokee County, so we opted to hunt the evenings. Plus my hunters have baseball practice on Saturday mornings. So we have had the blind set up for about a month on our food plot and a camera out to get an idea of movement and times of day. Just so happens the plot is still green and is providing some picking right before roost. Turkeys like a gathering area to eat a little right before fly up, and according to our pictures, the food plot was serving as the get-together place. From studying the pictures, we have several hens, three longbeards and two or three jakes. We opted not to use decoys and just let the turkey do their normal thing. So we are in the blind by 5:30 on Saturday evening, March 16. My twin grandsons and myself, with me in the caboose and them up front looking out the side and front windows. Well, it didn’t take long for the action to begin. Some hens were clucking and moving off a ridge in our direction, according to Tyler. Chase was the designated shooter, and I could not see anything from the rear. As Tyler was giving play by play of the action out the right side of the blind, I could see Chase was getting a little bit, shall we say, ‘Excited!’ Next thing I know, looking straight out front, the plot was full of hens. Meanwhile, Tyler is still at it, he said something like, ‘Three red-blue heads coming in, and the middle one is the biggest one.’ Things kind of kicked into overdrive as the shotgun barrel went out the blind window and every hen head in the plot went straight up. The results being a fast shot that resulted in a hard kick from a 3-inch magnum 12 gauge and no dead bird. I’m pretty sure, according to how high that gun barrel went up when he pulled the trigger, maybe a squirrel nest caught most of the load. Hey, we all get excited, that’s just part of hunting.

“Now fast forward to Sunday afternoon, March 24. As y’all know, we finally got some warm weather, say mid 70s. We went back over to the food plot, and this time we opted not to get into the blind. So we spread out at different locations with both Chase and Tyler doing the shooting. We put Chase in the prime location, and Tyler and I set up about 80 yards away. Birds came by Chase headed to roost but too far for a shot. The good thing is the gobblers were gobbling right up to fly up, which was about 7:20 p.m. Things had also taken on a different look, with the gobblers being in front paying close attention to a couple of hens, and the rest of the hens brought up the rear. If the 70s hold, you can bet it’s going to get right. Sorry I do not have any morning hunt info this month but hope to have it next month.

“Meanwhile, if you got a good idea where birds are roosting, don’t overlook the last two to three hours of daylight, it can be a lot of fun. Until next time, hunt safe and God bless!”

Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “This season has started out a whole lot different than the past two previous seasons, where the gobblers were very vocal and cooperative. It’s been for the most part quiet woods.

“Youth weekend, I took the same little guy that I took last year, through the Outdoor Dreams Foundation, and unlike last year, the woods were quiet, and we did not have success. The first morning, he did not feel good, and the hunt ended way too soon. That Sunday morning, he felt a great deal better, but it was pretty cold. Joshua was a trooper and hung in there until about 10 a.m. We did hear one bird gobble three times off in the distance, and I did manage to call three hens in, and he got to watch them for a while. I want to say, if you have good health, be grateful every day, and don’t take it for granted. There are others out there who want to enjoy the outdoors as much us who have good health and can’t.

“Opening weekend came and went with not a lot of fanfare. I think they are probably at least two weeks behind. The mature toms are still henned up really good. This makes me think that mid to late season may be best this year. Or it could be our property doesn’t hold the birds it has in the past. I hope that’s not the case. Regardless, I will be putting my time in until they do get right.”


Columbia County: Dylan Hankal, of Appling, reports, “The birds here in middle Georgia seem to gobbling really well at first light and slowly dying off throughout mid morning. As soon as they come off the roost around 7 a.m., they head straight to the hens and go out to feed. As far as evenings go, the toms are usually alone around the food plots from 5 p.m. until they head to the roost about 30 minutes before dark.”

Meriwether County: Jason Swindle Sr., of Carrollton, reports, “Opening weekend has been fantastic. It was 42 degrees with 3 mph wind. Gobbling started at 7:10 a.m., and gobblers were everywhere. The hens were extremely vocal, as well. The first bird to fly down was at 7:35 a.m.

“My friend and I set up in a food plot.  He has never killed a bird, so I was just there as a backup and guide. Trail cameras showed birds coming in on a regular basis beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sure enough, at 10:20 a.m, a couple of 2-year-old birds, three jakes and one hen came into the food plot. They ignored my decoys and just fed on clover. No strutting or aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, the toms did not get close enough to my friend. He could have shot all three jakes, but we have a rule that jakes are to be passed up.

“According to cams, the winter flock broke about three weeks ago with the warm weather. There are plenty of hens. Even though this seems like an early year, I don’t think the hens are nesting. Overall, it looks to be a great season with a very healthy turkey population.”

Monroe County: Greg Grimes, of Ball Ground, reports, “We run a ministry called CAMMO in Monroe County, and it was great to have four kids out trying for their first turkey during the youth weekend opener. We had a wonderful time catching fish, shooting guns and enjoying God’s great outdoors; however, the turkeys didn’t seem to read the script. After asking around, we discovered it wasn’t just us—the whole county was quiet. One gobble around 8 o’clock was the extent of our youth turkey opener.

“The regular opening weekend we introduced two adult first-timers to turkey hunting. The cool morning on opening day seemed to cause lockjaw for the turkeys, and none were heard. We did discover fresh sign, but the cameras we run showed little activity. During the afternoon hunt we found some fresh scratching and strut marks, but the turkeys evaded us again.

“Things would change on Sunday. We heard the first gobble around 7:15 way off, and we headed to close the gap. Judging from the gobble sounds, he flew down around 7:45. The bird closed from 400 yards to about 150 yards with a double gobble. As the excitement grew, he shut up… typical. I suspect he had hens come in because the last gobble had him going away, overall a pretty common hunt in the early season.

“I was taking a first-time caller Karen Camp, of Canton, and she was telling me how she loved that hunt just hearing the gobbles and all the sounds waking up in the woods. At around 8:45 on the loop back toward the truck, she hit the box, and a gobbler hammered really close by. We quickly set up by the nearest pine where she called one more time, and he showed up within five minutes. Karen was as excited as I was to witness to her first-ever turkey take a dirt nap. We will be enjoying some turkey tenders this week!

“I hope that we hear even more gobbling in the upcoming weeks, and I feel with food plot grasses seeding out we will draw in more birds. This is a great sport to take first-time hunters. We sure enjoyed the weather and just being outdoors. The turkey harvest is just icing on the cake. I wish everyone luck this season.”

Rockdale County: John Stanley, of Lawrenceville, reports, “I hunted all day Saturday with my two sons. There were six other club members hunting opening morning, as well. Overall the hunting and action was good. The birds began gobbling on the roost between 7 a.m. and 7:15, and in general had all flown down by 7:45. Many of the gobblers, mostly 2-year-olds, were running together in groups of two or three. The gobbler groups either had several hens with them and were looking for more, but it’s not all about hens right now. The toms are very aggressive toward each other as they determine pecking orders. Hunters can take advantage of this tendency by using gobbler decoy and gobble calls in a safe scenario. My son Andrew had non-stop action Saturday morning with a couple of groups of birds gobbling from the roost and all morning until he sealed the deal about 9:30. He witnessed lots of strutting and had three gobblers leave a hen as he was preparing for a shot to chase another pair of gobblers off. To his relief they returned five minutes later, and he was able to center punch one with a Rage broadhead at 30 yards.

Andrew Stanley, of Lawrenceville, with his opening morning bow-kill. The Rockdale County gobbler weighed 20 pounds, had a 9 1/4-inch beard and 7/8-inch spurs.

“Three of us stayed to hunt the afternoon and all had gobblers respond to our calls. I called two jakes in and passed. Another buddy called two 2-year-olds in and let them go to live another day. My other son Austin missed a big bird with his bow that he called in. We all were set up in strut and feeding zones near known roosting areas. That’s a huge key, to be between the birds and where they want to go. That just comes from experience and time spent in the woods.

“The best news is that the turkey population in our area seems to have increased after a down year least spring.”

Taylor County: Colby Brown, of Madison, was hunting with a friend and the friend’s cousins on their farm opening weekend.

“I decided I wanted to go hunting, and it was getting pretty late in the afternoon,” Colby said. “Everybody told me I was wasting my time, but I wanted to go anyway. We got ready and went to the field I wanted to set up in. I put my hen and jake decoys about 4 feet apart at the highest point in the field, so they could be seen from every direction and I sat against a tree about 30 yards from the decoys. I started to call with my mouth call, and before I knew it a hen walked out.

Colby Brown, 14, of Madison, got on this bird late in the afternoon during opening weekend in Taylor County.

After watching the hen mess with the decoys for about 5 minutes, I heard a gobble. It came from my left side about 50 yards away. Then he came running out toward my decoys, and he knew where he was going. He ran up to they decoys and started to kick and mess with them.

“I decided I wanted to take the shot and dropped him in his tracks.”


Camden County: Spud Woodward reports, “It was a drizzly first morning of the youth weekend, but the birds were very vocal—we heard at least eight different gobblers within earshot. The first birds to show interest in our strutting gobbler and double-hen decoy setup on the edge of a clover food plot were four jakes that wanted to mix it up with the strutter but never summoned up the courage. They just made a nuisance of themselves for about 30 minutes by repeatedly circling around the decoys. They finally moseyed off to the opposite end of the food plot and were joined by two hens, who themselves worked their way to our setup over the next 10 minutes. The four jakes were then joined by two more jakes, and the whole gang headed back our direction, much to our chagrin. They got about halfway to us when they reversed course back to the opposite end of the food plot, only to find themselves in the company of two mature gobblers, who proceeded to mix it up with the jakes. After thumping a couple of the younger birds, they caught sight of our setup and came running. A minute later they were double-teaming the strutter decoy with the jakes as a cheering section—half-gobbling, purring and yelping.  Soon, the decoy was on its side with a few broken tail feathers. The two birds stayed so close together while repeatedly punishing their already downed opponent, it was another 5 minutes before they separated a sufficient distance to give Maddox a clear shot at the dominant bird. It weighed 18 pounds, and had a 9 1/2-inch beard with a 1 1/4-inch spur and a 1 3/8-inch spur.

Maddox Stroud with his Camden County gobbler taken while hunting with Spud Woodward during the youth weekend. They had lots of action.

“We hit the woods again for the regular season opener, and four of us hunting around the property heard at least 12 different gobblers at daylight. I had a bird come into my strutter-single hen setup, but he hung up at about 75 yards. For the next 45 minutes, he half-strutted and gobbled at every sound made by a winged-creature—owls, crows, blue herons, pileated woodpeckers—and to every soft yelp and cluck I made with my pot and diaphragm calls. But his feet were nailed to the ground. Finally, he just turned around and went back the way he came. Classic example of the sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t situation with strutting gobbler decoys. None of us connected with a bird Saturday morning, but it was a great, albeit chilly, morning to be in the turkey woods.”

Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Vienna, reports, “Finally time to go after some longbeards! As turkey season opens, we are excited to finally be able to go after those big gobblers we have been watching during deer season. We seem to have had a good number of poults that survived from last spring and also have some good mature gobblers to try and meet up with this season. We haven’t been hearing a whole lot of gobbling in the early mornings yet, but hopefully they will get fired up soon. On Saturday morning of the youth weekend, the birds were gobbling from all directions in the woods, but they didn’t gobble at all until right at 8 a.m. Of course, as usual, after fly down they went silent. On opening day of the regular season the birds we not very vocal either. My son and grandson were able to go and only saw one hen. Hopefully the action will pick up soon. We are ready for some spring action. Hope you all have a great season. Hunt safe, God bless!”

Early County: Sam Klement is a member of Realtree, Muzzy and PSE pro hunting teams. “I had a few industry friends and CMA buddies down this weekend to kick off the Georgia opener and honor our Buddy ‘Double Barrel’ Daryle Singletary, who passed away this past year,” Sam said. “Our birds gobbled pretty good off the roost but quickly got henned up. The birds appear to be right on schedule breeding-cycle wise, and there seems to be a large number of birds this year. I was concerned that Hurricane Michael may have had a negative effect on our turkey population, and we’re very surprised to see the number of birds we are seeing. Great hatch and survival rate!   

“We ended up killing three birds over the weekend in our camp, but not a single bird was killed at fly down on the a.m. hunt. We stayed in the woods pretty much all day on both days. Our strategy was to stay with the birds, letting them do their thing in hopes that as the hens got bred and started to leave for their nests, we could pull away a mature bird.

“This plan came together Sunday mid morning. Around 11 a.m. after hearing multiple birds gobble early on then go silent, long-time friend Ricky Joe Bishop and I were walking and prospecting when we got a group of hens mad and started calling very aggressive. We were hoping that if a gobbler was nearby, he would sound off. Sure enough, we heard a big explosive double gobble approximately 300 yards down in a hardwood bottom.

Ricky Joe Bishop, of Manchester, was hunting with Cannon Klement (left) and Hunt Advisor Sam Klement opening weekend in Early County when he killed a monster gobbler. The bird weighed 24.24 pounds, and the spurs were 1 3/4 and 1 5/8 inches long. They killed the gobbler at 12 noon.

“Ricky and I set up and stated working this bird. He gobbled approximately 50 times over the course of an hour before spitting and drumming into the gun and camera at high noon. The key to this hunt was hanging in there and letting this hunt unfold. This turkey had to be at least 5 to 6 years old and no doubt has heard a lot of calls over his lifetime. We used multiple calls trying to emulate a small flock of aggressive hens he was with all morning. My tip to fellow Georgia hunters—when you are in the woods, you are on turkey time! If you are patient and stay with your birds, don’t over call until you strike one. Then let his actions dictate how much and how loud you need to call. The more hours you log in, the higher your odds are to kill a bird. Be safe this spring and enjoy God’s incredible beauty! A turkey is a bonus… life is short. Hunt hard and remember Huntin Is Good!”

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “I spent the second morning of turkey season hunting a 791-acre timber lease in Harris County. A fellow hunting club member who hunted this same property on opening morning reported hearing only one gobble and seeing no birds, and I had the same luck on March 24, as did another club member who was hunting another area of the property. Gobbling started around 7:25 a.m. and was over before 8:30 a.m., but the dogwoods were already blooming, so it was still a beautiful—and peaceful—morning spent in God’s wonderful creation!

“The turkey population in Harris County, like much of Georgia, continues to be way down from what it was just a few years ago. It seems that everybody I talk with has an opinion why that is, but the one common thread that everyone points to is that the decline in our turkey population seems to coincide with the increase in the local coyote population. Nobody believes this is the only reason for the decline, but it’s likely a contributing factor, so we all have another good reason to go out and kill some coyotes! Still, no matter what we do, it appears that, while we’ll have some variations in the turkey population from season to season, the ‘best old days’ of Georgia turkey hunting are likely behind us, and what we now have is ‘the new normal’ of turkey hunting, both in Harris County specifically and in Georgia as a whole. But I’ll take that, because it’s still much better than the Georgia turkey hunting that our grandfathers had!”

Johnson County: Tim Knight, of Dublin, reports, “Had a great hunt Sunday afternoon in Johnson County on the second day of the season. The gobbling reports have been sporadic. For Laurens, Johnson and Wilkinson counties, there have been a few birds killed, but also lots of reports of birds—if they gobble—they are shutting up not long after fly down, which means they are henned up.

Tim Knight got it done again with his bow. His Johnson County gobbler from opening weekend had three beards.

“Lots of good hunting to come if you have birds. But never let no gobbling discourage you. Do your homework and scout, and use woodsmanship to find birds. Can’t count the times I’ve set up on a bird gobbling every breath only to have him fly down and shut up or go the other way. And other times you hear one single gobble or no gobbles at all and have a gobbler show up after calling. Or you have one start gobbling way after daylight. Believe this or not, but a turkey that gobbles tastes exactly like one that doesn’t. It not like you’re at the table and say, ‘This one tastes kinda quiet.’ An old, wise turkey hunter told me, ‘It’s not time to kill the old turkeys until you can smell the honeysuckle.’ Good hunting ahead, just got to be patient when you hunt. Patience will kill more turkeys than anything.”

Muscogee County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “I had the good fortune to spend open day of turkey season hunting a 185-acre private farm in Muscogee County that is intensively managed year-round for both deer and turkeys. As has been the case with much of Georgia over the past several years, even on good turkey habitat like this farm, the turkey population has been down significantly, and the turkeys are just now starting to rebound.  When I say that I saw one mature gobbler, seven jakes, and a hen opening morning, and then went back and saw six jakes and three more hens that afternoon, you might think the turkeys on this property have rebounded completely. But, when you compare this to routinely killing multiple mature gobblers—and usually doing so the first week of the season—year after year, up to just a few years ago, it’s still not what it used to be. But it’s still good, and slowly getting better, which is definitely something I couldn’t say for the last several years.

“On opening morning, gobbling didn’t start on this farm until fly-down time, which was a little before 7:30 a.m., but it continued until almost 9 a.m. Both the mature gobbler and the jakes were sounding off, and there is little doubt in my mind that I would have killed the tom if the jakes weren’t there. All seven jakes were in a big field, and I could see the tom coming to that field through the pines. But the tom saw the jakes, and he skirted the field as soon as that whole gang of birds started trotting towards him. I’m betting that gobbler has been whipped a time or two already! That afternoon, the jakes came to the same field again, and they all gobbled multiple times. The tom gobbled off the field several times, but he never came in. If I have a few minutes the next time this situation happens with this particular tom, or really with any tom that shows a fear of a group of jakes, I’ll spook the jakes off once the tom commits to coming in, but while he’s still out of sight, because I don’t think that gobbler will ever come in with those bullies hanging around.”

Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “This was by far the best opening day of turkey season for me. The weather was perfect, and the birds were gobbling. My hunting partner Laci Green was after her second gobbler ever, and we had one gobbling 100 yards from us. We set up on the road headed to the food plot he was roosted over and waited. He gobbled at everything I did and everything the six or seven hens did when they talked. He flew down at 7:28 and never said another word. But another longbeard came in alone from our right, and after spitting and drumming across a little creek, he finally came out in the road at 20 yards. Laci wasn’t sure about how the sights were lined up on his head, so she didn’t shoot at first, trying to adjust, and he got away. She was disappointed, but I told her she did the right thing if she wasn’t sure.

Hunt Advisor Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, had a special opening weekend with his daughter Laci. Six gobblers came in, and when the bird Laci was aiming at came out of strut, she pulled the trigger. “Birds went to flopping,” said Richie. Laci had tagged out with one shot.

“So we left and went to another tract where we had heard some, and as we were opening the gate the train was coming by, and we all know what loud noises do. So we hurried to a powerline and seat up, and I heard three or four gobbles together. I made a few calls, and about 15 minutes later here they come, all six of them. I had told her to always try to shoot the one that’s strutting once he came out of strut. So when he turned, she laid the hammer down with her Tristar 20 gauge, and birds went to flopping. And just like that her season was over with her second, third and fourth turkeys ever.

“To make it even better I filmed the whole thing. She went from heartbroken to the reason we love to do this all in about one hour. By 10:05 she was tagged out, and I was one happy daddy.

“To make this even more special, I killed a double with one shot in 1997 and GON posted my picture with her leaning over my shoulder, so we took one with me leaning over hers 22 years later. No matter what’s going on in this crazy world, making memories with your kids helps you get through it.

“Everyone I talked to heard turkeys, so maybe they are making a comeback. I sure hope so.”

Richie Green said, “To make this even more special, I killed a double with one shot in 1997, and GON posted my picture with Laci leaning over my shoulder, so we took one with me leaning over hers 22 years later. No matter what’s going on in this crazy world, making memories with your kids helps you get through it.”

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