The coronavirus pandemic is not keeping turkey hunters out of the woods.
The turkey harvest is higher in Tennessee two weeks into the season than it was at the same point the previous two years.
A statewide youth hunt (ages 6-16) took place on March 28-29 and the spring hunting season began on April 4.
Through Thursday, 25,506 turkeys have been killed in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
That is 5,923 more birds than were killed at the same point in 2019 and 9,141 more than were killed in 2018.
“With the numbers being up, I guess it says people have a lot more free time and a lot of them are using it to hunt,” TWRA spokesperson Barry Cross said. “We never had a concern that people wouldn’t hunt (because of the pandemic). We were just happy the governor (Bill Lee) included getting outdoors and that hunting and fishing was part of what he considered essential activity. We were thrilled with that because we would have had a riot on our hands if we had to cancel turkey season.”
The counties with the largest harvests: Greene 708, Dickson 609, Giles 598, Sumner 596, Rutherford 579, Williamson 527, Wilson 520, Montgomery 519, Robertson 461, Lincoln 455, Hickman 449, Marshall 431, Bedford 409, Carroll 394 and Hardin 391.
Hunters are allowed to kill one turkey per day and a total of four for the entire spring season, which lasts though May 17.
Corey Simpson is a Gallatin firefighter who said he hunts every day he is not working.
“We work 24 (hours) on, 48 off so I go on my days off and try to tag out my limit, put meat in the freezer,” Simpson said. “It never crossed my mind not to hunt this year (because of the pandemic). You’re not close to anybody at all when you’re hunting.”
Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise and until sunset.
► More: Tennessee spring turkey hunting season to open as scheduled
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.