LEGALESE — Turkey

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 8.05.22 PMIn honor of Thanksgiving, and to test my theory that if you can think of it there is a law relating to it, I typed “turkey” in my Official Code of Georgia search engine. Eight results popped up. That is, eight laws specifically mentioning turkeys.

Some of them deal with hunting. O.C.G.A. 27-3-15 sets the seasons for hunting different species. Turkey hunting is specifically closed from May 22 until March 14. [Aside: I have always thought it odd that turkey hunting season isn’t anywhere near Thanksgiving.] It is open from March 15 until May 21. Turkey is further defined as “big game” along with deer and bear; as well as being defined as a “game bird” along with “quail, grouse, and all migratory game birds.”

Turkeys can only be shot with “shotguns using No. 2 shot or smaller, muzzleloading firearms, longbows, crossbows, recurve bows, or compound bows.” If you violate this weapons restriction, it is a misdemeanor, with a fine not less than $250.00. [As an aside, to hunt alligators, you are limited to “hand-held ropes or snares, snatch hooks, harpoons, gigs, or arrows with restraining lines attached. Lawfully restrained alligators may be killed with any caliber handgun or bangstick and shall be killed immediately before transporting.”]

If you are mobility impaired, that is, dependent upon a wheelchair, or a hemiplegic, a monoplegic, a paraplegic, or if you have a single-leg amputation above the knee, your turkey hunting season is extended to the weekend prior to the first weekend of the open turkey season.

Not all of the laws address hunting. In fact, turkey are specifically named in the laws about prescribed burning. “Fire,” so says O.C.G.A. 12-6-146 “benefits rare, threatened, and endangered plants, deer, turkey, quail, dove, and other game….”

Of course, we eat turkeys that we haven’t hunted ourselves, and so there are laws regarding the consumption of turkeys. Throughout the Official Code of Georgia title regarding Food and Drugs, whenever the word “egg” is used it means “the shell egg of the domesticated chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or guinea.”

Apparently, if you think turkey from elsewhere are better, you can bring them into the state of Georgia without the need of a wildlife importation permit, according to O.C.G.A. 27-2-19.

If you are in a wildlife management area, and you kill a deer, bear, or turkey “in the manner specified by the rules of the department for that wildlife management area on the date killed to the state game and fish checking station on the area” you have broken the law.

Of course, turkey are also defined as poultry and there are a whole host of laws that deal with the handling and storage of poultry.

We are a nation of laws, and we celebrate the beginnings of this nation on Thanksgiving by enjoying the natural bounty of the land. Just let the good folks at Butterball or whatever brand you prefer handle the turkey procuring for you: it won’t be turkey season for another four months.

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not to be considered legal advice or complete information of any kind.

About Lori Duff 352 Articles
Lori is the author of the bestselling collection of humor essays, "Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza" currently available exclusively on Amazon. In order to finance her writing habit, she is a practicing lawyer with Jones & Duff, LLC. She is married to Mike Duff, who is a retired DeKalb County Public Safety Officer, and has two amazing children who make cameo embarrassing appearances in her blog posts and who attend Walton County Public Schools. Her legal column, "Legalese", is meant to de-mystify and humanize the Court system. When asked about her writing, Lori says, "Life is too short not to laugh at every available opportunity. My goal is to make myself laugh -- and hopefully you will laugh along with me."

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