After watching turkey hunters head afield in South Texas, North Texas and most of Oklahoma in recent weeks, it’s finally time for the local spring season to begin.


The spring season, that is, for the increasingly limited number of counties falling under Texas’s Eastern turkey regulations package which starts its April 22-May 14 run on Monday morning.


That includes Grayson County which actually has a fair number of Rio Grande longbeards, along with hybrid Rio Grande/Eastern turkeys, strutting and gobbling about.


Why is that? That’s what biologists stocked here in the 1990s since Rio Grandes do better in more arid areas typically found in much of western, central and southern Texas. Draw an imaginary line north and south from the Texoma region, a mark that stretches from North Texas through Oklahoma and up into Kansas, and Rio Grandes are basically found to the west of that line while Easterns are basically found to the east.


Nearby Fannin and Lamar counties will also see their spring turkey season commence on Monday, two more of the 13 counties that are open this year during the three week long Eastern turkey season available this spring. Thanks to more annual precipitation and woodland habitat in those areas, the two counties to our east primarily have Eastern turkeys roaming about in their woods and uplands.


In all three counties, wild turkey numbers are limited and hunting success is generally found near areas of good habitat that still holds reproducing pockets of birds. In Grayson and Fannin Counties that’s typically closer to the Red River while wild turkeys are a little bit more spread out in Lamar County.


What can local hunters expect in 2019? Fair hunting prospects with a decent number of mature longbeards, lesser numbers of juvenile jake birds, and all of them uncharacteristically quiet as this is written.


Do keep in mind that in Grayson, Fannin and Lamar counties, hunters will once again be required to electronically report the taking of their turkeys within 24 hours of harvest.


Such reports can be made through the TPWD My Texas Hunt Harvest App or online from the TPWD turkey page at www.tpwd.texas.gov/turkey.


TBGA Final Standings — The Texas Big Game Awards program has released its final standings for the 2018-19 season, and Grayson County and surrounding counties once again produced some of the program’s top whitetail bucks this past year.


At the top of the non-typical side of the Region 5 TBGA ledger is Chad Jones’ 233 7/8 inch net buck from Collin County. Along with its gross score of 238 6/8 inches, it becomes the largest TBGA buck ever taken from the county, outdistancing Cody Griffin’s 195 4/8-inch buck tagged back in 2015. (Editor’s Note: The 2019 Jones buck also surpasses Kenny Grant’s 211 7/8-inch Pope and Young buck taken back in 2013 and Steve Purcell’s 2015 non-typical that had a reported 48 points and a gross score of 214 and change, a buck that Purcell chose not to enter into TBGA or P&Y).


While Jones amazing bow buck is No. 1 in Region 5 last fall – and the top free-ranging whitetail reported anywhere in Texas during the 2018-19 season – there are several other superb non-typicals that were also tagged in our backyard last fall. Those include Todd Tompson’s Grayson County bruiser, a crossbow buck that had a gross score of 192 4/8 inches and a net score of 187 6/8 inches, good enough to be the second ranking deer in TBGA’s Region 5 this past season and the best buck taken in Grayson County.


Another high ranking local deer is Dale Moses’ massive monster, a multi-tined buck with great mass that has a gross score of 192 3/8 inches and a net score of 182 3/8 inches, good enough to earn the retired game warden’s bow buck the No. 4 ranking in Region 5 and the No. 2 spot in Grayson County for this past season.


And don’t forget Fannin County probation officer Todd Maxey’s fine non-typical, a Fannin County bruiser that gross scores 201 3/8 inches and net scores 181 4/8 inches. That rifle buck is good enough for a No. 5 ranking in Region 5 during the 2018-19 season.


On the typical side of the ledger, there is Rodney Owens’ Boone and Crockett typical from Hunt County, a buck that gross scores 181 4/8 inches and net scores 171 7/8 inches, good enough to rank No. 1 in Region 5. And don’t overlook Gary Bennett’s solid Grayson County typical last season, a fine local whitetail specimen that gross scores 144 7/8 inches and net scores 135 2/8 inches.


Hagerman Application Period Approaches — Speaking of big deer, it’s almost time for the annual May 1-31 application period for archers hoping to draw a bow tag to hunt big bucks this fall at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.


This fall’s Hagerman NWR bowhunt will feature 225 archery permits for the 5,570 acres found in the Big Mineral, Harris and Meyers units open during the 2019 bowhunt segments. Hunt dates this year are Nov. 1-3 for Segment A, Nov. 15-17 for Segment B, and Dec. 6-8 for Segment C.


Once again this year, the non-refundable application fee is $5 per hunter and applicants must have successfully completed a bowhunter education course prior to applying. The drawing will take place on June 7 while the deadline to turn in the $50 hunt fee and shooting proficiency test scorecard will be on July 12.


For more information, call the Refuge office at 903-786-2826 during business hours Monday through Friday or visit Hagerman’s online page at www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Hagerman%202019%20Archery%20Deer.pdf.