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Tennessee spring turkey hunting season to open as scheduled

The Tennessean (Nashville) logo The Tennessean (Nashville) 3/24/2020 Mike Organ, Nashville Tennessean
a man sitting on top of a grass covered field: Paul Neighbours of Hendersonville shows off a turkey he killed last year. Neighbours plans to be in the woods on April 4 for the opening day of turkey hunting season this year. © Submitted Paul Neighbours of Hendersonville shows off a turkey he killed last year. Neighbours plans to be in the woods on April 4 for the opening day of turkey hunting season this year.

When Paul Neighbours is turkey hunting, he stays as far away from other hunters as possible. They don't want to be around him and he doesn't want to be around them.

That's why Neighbours never worried that Tennessee's spring turkey hunting season, which is scheduled to open April 4, would be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing in the woods is the norm.

"I wasn't concerned about (state wildlife officials) not opening the season because turkey hunters don't stay close to each other anyway," said Neighbours, of Hendersonville. "You always want to keep your distance in the woods."

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Neighbours' son Casey, 21, will accompany 14-year-old cousin Devin in the young sportsman hunt for ages 6-16 on Saturday and Sunday.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has suspended all in-person services and postponed or canceled several other state-sponsored events.

Officials, however, decided to keep turkey season open to provide an outlet for hunters.

"Even with social distancing people will still have the opportunity to get outdoors and be away from pretty much everything by hunting, and we're not going to limit that at this point," said TWRA spokesperson Barry Cross. "It's a good way for people to get out from being cooped up."  

Spring turkey hunting season lasts through May 17. The bag limit is one bearded turkey per day and a total of four for the season.

Wildlife officers will be out checking to make sure hunters are abiding by regulations, but will keep their distance while doing so.

"Officers are still out there doing what they do," Cross said. "We've been directed to limit face-to-face contact unless it's an emergency. But we're still out there, we're still checking people — they have to be there."

Hunters will still be able to show officers the turkeys they have killed either by showing their paper tags or logging onto the TWRA website and recording their kill, Cross said.

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The spring harvest in 2019 in Tennessee was 28,057, according to the TWRA. Counties with the largest harvests included Maury (845), Dickson (796), Giles (624), Montgomery (596), Robertson (584), Weakley (521), Rutherford (512), Williamson (512), Henry (492) and Hickman (492).

"The spring is the time of the year turkey hunters look the most forward to and with all that is going on this season will be even more anticipated," said Rick Frawley, an avid turkey hunter from Nolensville. "For the most part, hunting and fishing are sports of solitude ..."

Hunters are allowed to use shotguns or archery to kill turkeys in the spring.

Fall turkey hunting season for archery is Sept. 28 to Oct. 25 and Oct. 28 to Nov. 8. Fall gun season is Oct. 12-25.

Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter. 

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee spring turkey hunting season to open as scheduled

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