Turkey season starts Saturday

SOCIAL CIRCLE – Gobble. Cluck. Purr. Georgia turkey hunters are practicing their best turkey calls as they get ready for the statewide turkey hunting season opening Saturday, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“We saw an uptick in reproduction in 2018, so that could mean a better number of 2-year-old birds in the woods this year,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “We also had a higher than average jake harvest in 2019, nine percent of the total harvest, which typically means a better harvest the following spring.”

What can hunters expect across state regions this spring? Harvest in the Ridge and Valley region of the state could be up, as 2018 was a phenomenal reproductive year. The Blue Ridge Mountain region also saw a jump in poults per hen, indicating promise of a good harvest.  The other regions of the state, the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, had increases of varying levels, suggesting a fair to good harvest in these areas. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 21 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).

Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek-Little River WMA Hunters, take note! The 2020 turkey season will run April 4-May 15 on these properties. This is two weeks later than the statewide opening date. This difference is due to ongoing research between the University of Georgia and WRD, who are investigating the timing of hunting pressure and its effects on gobbler behavior and reproductive success. Through this research, biologists and others hope to gain insight to the reasons for an apparent population decline in order to help improve turkey populations and hunter success at Cedar Creek WMA and statewide.

Georgia Game Check: All turkey hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check. Turkeys can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (www.georgiawildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app), which now works whether you have cell service or not, at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661. App users, if you have not used the app since deer season or before, make sure you have the latest version. More information at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.

Hunters age 16 years or older (including those accompanying youth or others) will need a hunting license and a big game license, unless hunting on their own private land.  Get your license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, at a retail license vendor or by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.

Conservation of the Wild Turkey in Georgia

The restoration of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories.  Currently, the bird population hovers around 250,000-300,000 statewide, but as recently as 1973, the wild turkey population was as low as 17,000. Intensive restoration efforts, such as the restocking of wild birds and establishment of biologically sound hunting seasons facilitated the recovery of wild turkeys in every county. This successful effort resulted from cooperative partnerships between private landowners, hunters, conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Wildlife Resources Division. The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has donated more than $6,000,000 since 1985 for projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works in partnership with the Wildlife Resources Division and other land management agencies on habitat enhancement, hunter access, wild turkey research and education. The NWTF has a vital initiati

Dalton State wins conference title

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – #4 Dalton State is bringing hardware back to Dalton in the form of the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship trophy after the Roadrunners defeated #21 Loyola (La.), 79-70 in the finals of the SSAC Basketball Championships presented by Newk’s Eatery at Cramton Bowl Multiplex in Montgomery, Ala. on Saturday night. The tournament championship is the second in school-history for the Roadrunners who won the tournament in 2017.



  • Loyola was hot out of the box jumping out to a 16-8 lead that forced a Dalton State timeout with 14:01 left in the half.
  • DS stuck to their game and methodically chipped away at the lead getting it to four (22-18) after a Randy Bell lay in with 8:30 remaining.
  • Kevon Tucker went hard to the hole with 3:34 on the clock, made the bucket and drew a foul. The and-1 tied the game at 30-30.
  • The Birds grabbed the lead for the first time two minutes later on another basket from Tucker (34-32).
  • With the Roadrunners up 37-35, Tucker viciously blocked a Zach Wrightsil layup attempt, pinning the ball to the backboard but was called for a body foul.
  • Wrightsil hit both shots from the free throw line to tie the game at 37-37 at the half.


  • The Wolf Pack opened the second period with a 7-0 run to take a 44-37 lead.
  • Igor Stokic hit a field goal just shy of the 15-minute mark to cut the deficit to three (46-43), the Loyola answered back with five of their own to extend the lead to eight points (51-43).
  • LU continued to hold the lead until just past the halfway mark of the half when Kevon Tucker and Randy Bell combined for a 9-3 spurt to make it a two-point game (58-56).
  • The game remained tight until the 4:40 mark when C.J. Perry hit a deep three to give the Roadrunners a 64-63 lead.
  • They would not trail again as they outscored the Wolf Pack 15-7 down the stretch to win the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship.


#4 Dalton State (Ga.) improves to 30-3 overall with the win, while #21 Loyola (La.) falls to 23-10 overall with the loss. Kevon Tucker led a trio of Roadrunners in double-figures with 20 points and six rebounds.

Randy Bell had 19 points, two rebounds and two assists, while Dauson Womack recorded another double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.

Tim Cameron and Myles Burns led the Wolf Pack with 15 points each. Cameron almost had a triple-double, adding 10 rebounds and eight assists. Zach Wrightsil had 14 points and Terry Smith Jr. pulled down 10 boards for Loyola.


DS crashed the boards against a tough rebounding opponent (39-35) and won the battle in the paint (34-32). The Birds turned 16 Wolf Pack turnovers into 19 points on the offensive end and outscored them from the bench 27-8.

The Wolf Pack were more efficient from the field in the first half going 14-for-28 (50%), while the Roadrunners were 13-for-35 (37.1%) including 4-for-16 (25%) from behind the arc. The narrative changed in the second half where the Birds shot at a 53.8% clip versus 32.3% for Loyola.


With a berth in the NAIA Tournament now locked up, the Roadrunners will wait to see their fate in the NAIA Tournament Selection Show on Wednesday, March 11. Stayed tuned to dsroadrunners.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for links to watch the show.

Veteran Indians ready to play

BY ERIK GREEN, Sports Editor

Marco Burgueno never really set out to become a coach. Yet, here he is, nine years into his tenure as Murray County’s boys’ soccer coach and there’s no going back now. Why would he? The Indians finished with an 11-5-3 record a year ago and very nearly won the Region 6-AAA title. They made a brief playoff run before falling to Greater Atlanta Christian. There is plenty to be excited about this year as well with nine seniors returning. “It’s exciting every year,” said Burgueno, who also teaches economics at Murray. “We always have pretty good talent. This year is about making sure we work together, connect, and have chemistry and translate that to wins. I’m upbeat every year and I feel like we have good players.”

For the rest of this story, as well as boys and girls soccer previews for all four local prep teams, please pick up a current copy of The Chatsworth Times. 

Ruritan golf tourney planned

The 20th annual Spring Place Ruritan Club Golf Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, April 18 at Indian Trace Golf Course.

Club members are signing up teams and securing hole sponsors as they anticipate another tremendous event this year.  Proceeds from the event will support the Spring Place Ruritan Club’s numerous service projects in Murray County.

The shotgun start will be at 8:30 a.m.  The tournament will be a four-man select shot event with space for up to 25 teams. The cost is $55 per person. Low score team prizes include $400 for first place, $200 for second, and $100 for third place. There will also be a special prize for the player closest to the pin on the 5th hole. For the longest drives on holes 8 and 17, there are cash prizes of $75 each. The really big award is a car from Chatsworth Ford for a hole in one on hole 18.  Mulligans are $5 each for up to two per golfer.  Range balls are extra.

For more information about the golf tournament or Ruritan, call Chuck Smith at 706-264-3968 or Vicki Bramblett at 706-581-3959. Hole sponsorships are available for $125 each.

McConkey joins Georgia Bulldogs

BY ERIK GREEN, Sports editor

When Ladd McConkey stepped onto campus at North Murray as a freshman, he was tiny, and some might say, brittle. No one except McConkey would have imagined a day in which he would sign to play football at a powerhouse like the University of Georgia. That’s because, as his basketball coach Tim Ellis put it, “no challenge is too big for Ladd McConkey.” On Feb. 5, National Signing Day, McConkey did, indeed, sign a letter of intent to play for the Bulldogs. McConkey, listed as a three star receiver by Rivals.com, is expected to compete for playing time at receiver and, most likely, kick returner. “You talk about him as a freshman, he weighed 110 pounds,” said North Murray football coach Preston Poag. “Now, all the big schools are after him. All the football stuff is great — he has done a lot of special things — but the person he is is what will carry him. I mean that by his hard work, playing with a chip on his shoulder, just getting after it every day. It has carried him along in high school and he’ll have to keep that up at one of the best teams and programs in the country. He will work his tail off and be successful.” During the season, McConkey played quarterback for the Mountaineers. He rushed for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns while passing for 1,771 yards and 20 touchdowns. McConkey led the Mountaineers to an 11 win season, their first Region 6-AAA title, and a trip to the quarterfinals. McConkey had received interest from schools like South Alabama, Jacksonville State, Mercer, and others before Georgia came into the picture. Georgia coach Kirby Smart came to town several weeks ago to watch McConkey play with the Mountaineer basketball team. Courting began in earnest after that and, despite getting some looks from other SEC schools, McConkey decided on the Dawgs. “It’s amazing to be signing with the University of Georgia,” McConkey said. “They’re prestigious both academically and athletically. It really is something special.” McConkey will once again have to prove himself at the University of Georgia like he did as an undersized freshman at North Murray. It didn’t take him very long to do that, however, as he’s been a mainstay in the Mountaineer starting lineup most of his high school career at one positon or another. He will take his talent, work ethic, and what has been described as an iron will into camp with the Dawgs and see what happens. “It’s like anything else,” he said. “I’ll go at it with a full head of steam and put everything I have into it. That’s all I can do and everything else will play out how it plays out.” McConkey said he is leaning toward a finance otball once basketball season comes to an end, conditioning, lifting, and looking to bulk up a few pounds. He’s listed at 6’, 180 lbs by Rivals, though he is closer to 165 lbs. While Georgia’s Smart gave McConkey no guarantees, he will be able to compete for a shot at the field as a freshman. “He says I will have every opportunity to come in and play,” McConkey said. “I have to make the most of it, being physically ready, and mentally ready. It’s a whole new level and I realize that so I will have to come ready and prepared.” McConkey is the third North Murray player in two years to sign with a major FBS program. Last year, Luke Griffin signed at Missouri and this season McConkey’s teammate Chaisen Buckner inked with Navy during the early signing period. It’s something that the North Murray family is very proud of, according to principal Maria Bradley. “We are so excited for all of Ladd’s opportunities,” said Bradley, herself a Georgia grad. “Ladd is a kid, too, that will seize an opportunity. He had some offers from other places, yet he realized the extent that Georgia went to and the courtesy they offered him and the opportunities they were giving him. They really courted him and he decided to go with the person who wanted him the most. It’s a great school.”



McConkey joins Bulldogs

North Murray standout Ladd McConkey committed to play football for the University of Georgia this weekend after visiting Athens. McConkey is expected to play wide receiver for the Bulldogs, who finished the 2019 season as the nation’s No. 4 ranked program.

See the Chatsworth Times on Wednesday for a full story.

Napier gets contract extension

Chatsworth High School graduate Billy Napier this week received a two-year contract extension from the University of Louisiana-LaFayette.

Napier’s team has a 10-3 record this season and is set to play Miami of Ohio in the LendingTree Bowl on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Napier is in his second season as head coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns and has an overall record of 17-10.

The two-year contract extension ties him to UL-L through 2025.

Napier graduated from MCHS in 1998. He played quarterback for his father, the late Bill Napier.

(See the Chatsworth Times on Wednesday for more details.)



Lederer fills many roles for NM



Sometimes the term “glue guy” is used to describe a player known for his intangibles and not much else. He might be a nice kid without much talent, but the other players like him and he holds the team together. This isn’t the case for North Murray’s “glue guy” Ethan Lederer.

He is, indeed, a good guy who keeps the team rolling, but he’s also a talented basketball player and a big reason why the Mountaineers are a threat to win the region for the second year in a row.

“He’s a kid that just is in the shadows, I guess you could say,” said North Murray coach Tim Ellis. “He just plays basketball so he works on it year-round and he’s a kid that has really stepped up and been a big part of the success these guys have had. He is a hard worker and a kid that has the biggest heart in the world, is a great teammate, and doesn’t care about who gets credit. That’s all these kids, really, but he epitomizes it. He goes out there and does his job.”

The 6’2” Lederer is a quiet, unassuming, kid who was the centerpiece for the Mountaineers in the first three games of the season when many of the star players were occupied by the football playoffs. Even though the Mountaineers lost those early basketball games, the experience gave Lederer, a senior, the chance to stand out and take on a leadership role.

“A lot of times these kids feel like they need to take a step back whenever they’re on a team that’s got a lot of kids that have a big reputation,” Ellis said. “That’s why we went ahead and played those non-region games because I wanted kids like him, Ty Kendrick, and Landon Ledford to be thrust into the role of the workhorse and the guy who has to carry the load.”

Lederer said he was glad to step up and take a lead role during that stretch.

“It was tough but it made me develop into a leader,” he said. “Now that we’ve got the football guys back we’re rolling. You can tell there is a big difference. The guys that are starters, we’ve been playing together since we were five or six years old. You can tell that the chemistry is really clicking.”

Lederer has a tight-end’s body and he can beat and bang in the low-post as a power forward, but his skill set is multipurpose, Ellis said. He can score near the basket or on step out and shoot, which makes his versatility extremely dangerous to the opposition.

“He is one of those guys who, in a scheme with taller players, would be a two-guard because he shoots it so well,” Ellis said. “For us, in the region we play in, and the classification, he’s going to have to bang and do those things defensively, but he creates a mismatch for other teams because he can step out and shoot it well. He has gotten better mixing it up offensively. Defensively he does a great job of rebounding.”

Lederer is part of a heralded senior class whose exploits on the athletic fields have been well documented. The entire starting lineup is comprised of seniors. After the bulk of the starters returned from football, the Mountaineers rolled off five wins in a row, including a victory over rival Murray County. The Mountaineers have a ton of experience and, while still getting their sea legs under them, should be peaking at the right time come January. Lederer should continue to be a focal point.

“We need him to do a great job on the defensive end,” Ellis said. “He is (also) that kid we still expect to put points on the board. In the last five games he has led us in two or three of them in scoring.”

Lederer has been playing basketball since his youth and, despite playing other sports, decided to focus on basketball for his senior year. It’s the pace of the game that has kept his interest through the years, he said, and he hopes to continue playing basketball on the next level if possible. Right now, though, Lederer’s focus is helping his team push through a tough region schedule and make a playoff run.

“Our region is crazy,” he said. “It’s anybody’s region. Everybody seems to reload every year. It’s really a competitive region, probably one of the best in AAA to be honest.”

Waterfowl hunting rules have changed



SOCIAL CIRCLE – With waterfowl hunting season opening Sat., Nov. 23, duck hunters should make note of some changes in this year’s hunting regulations, according to experts with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“There are three big changes in the waterfowl hunting regulations this year” said WRD state waterfowl biologist Greg Balkcom.  “The waterfowl season now has a fixed ending date of January 31, the bag limit on mallards has been reduced to two, and the hunting season frameworks – the season length and total bag limits – are now set based on the combined status of four species, not just the status of Eastern Mallards.”

Duck season dates are Nov. 23-Dec. 1, and Dec. 12 – Jan. 31.  Full migratory bird hunting regulations can be found at https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/waterfowl.

More about the changes

  • Season End Date: Hunter surveys indicate that hunters want the season to run as late as possible, and now the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed for a fixed ending date of January 31.  Additionally, the majority of Georgia’s waterfowl hunters prefer a fixed ending date. So, in the foreseeable future, waterfowl hunting seasons will end on January 31, regardless of the day of the week.

  • Mallard Bag Limit: Because of declines in the mallard population in the northeastern U.S. as measured by the Atlantic Flyway Breeding Waterfowl Survey, the mallard bag limit in the Atlantic Flyway has been reduced to two.  More information on the Mallard population decline can be found at https://georgiawildlife.com/migratory-bird-info (select the “Management” link).

  • Duck Season Framework: Since 2000, the Atlantic Flyway has used the status of Eastern Mallards to select the duck season frameworks (season length and total bag limit), but beginning this year, the season framework is based on the combined status of four species: American green-winged teal, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, and common goldeneye.  These species are important to hunters up and down the Atlantic Flyway, and they represent a suite of habitats found within the flyway.  More information on the methods used to select the duck season frameworks can be found at https://georgiawildlife.com/migratory-bird-info (select the “Management” link).

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Dates are Nov. 16-17. On these two days, youth age 16 or younger may hunt specific migratory birds, such as ducks, Canada geese and mergansers, as long as they are accompanied by an adult of at least 18 years of age (only the youth may hunt).

To hunt waterfowl in Georgia you will need a Georgia hunting license, a Georgia migratory bird license, and a federal duck stamp (now available when you purchase your other recreational licenses).  WRD has made your purchase decision even easier by the creation of the Waterfowl Hunter Package at www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, which includes all you need (and includes a convenient plastic card).

For more information on Georgia Hunting Regulations for waterfowl, visit https://georgiawildlife.com/migratory-bird-info.

Mountaineers earn championship

By Jimmy Espy, General Manager


FORT OGLETHORPE –  North Murray made school history on Friday, claiming its first-ever region championship by crushing Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 31-0.

But the Mountaineers, who finish their regular season at home on Friday against Sonoraville, are not satisfied. Nor are they ahead to the playoffs.

“One game at a time,” said wide receiver Landon Burrell, as his teammates celebrated on Friday. “That’s how we’re going  at it.”

“This is something we’ve never done before and we’re proud to bring it (the region 6-AAA title) to our school.”

The Mountaineers (8-1, 7-0 in the region) shut out LFO, but the Warriors did not go down without a fight — literally. The game turned nasty for a brief time in the third quarter after a sideline hit on Mountaineer quarterback Ladd McConkey in front of the North Murray bench. Harsh words and shoves were exchanged between players and the makings of a brawl were in place as North Murray coaches tried to restore order. The arrival of LFO coaches made matters worse when they got into a shouting match with their North Murray counterparts.

Loud, unpleasant suggestions were exchanged before the referees and common sense restored order.

The brouhaha fired up players and fans on both sides but did little to help LFO dig out of the 17-0 hole the Warriors were burrowed into at the time.

The scoring

McConkey, as he has done most of the season, sparked the Mountaineer offense.

The senior threw three touchdown passes and ran for another.

Putting him out of the game seemed to be a top priority of the  Warriors, but they failed to do so and McConkey made them pay, though he had some troubles of his own. He threw a bad interception in the first quarter and lost the ball on a fumble in the second quarter.

Those miscues helped keep the score deadlocked at 0-0 until the 3:04 mark of the second quarter when McConkey dashed 40 yards for a touchdown.

Owen Hannah’s PAT made it 7-0.

The Mountaineers got sneaky and followed with an onside kick which Chaisen Buckner recovered at the LFO 38.

It was Buckner who did the scoring honors, hauling in a short pass from McConkey and accelerating past the safety for a 22-yard TD play.

Hannah added the PAT.

The Warriors should have been able to run out the half but instead gifted the Mountaineers three more points when Burrell recovered a fumble.

A penalty on LFO and a 15-yard run by McConkey set up Hannah for a 34-yard field goal. It was the young kicker’s sixth successful boot in as many tries this season.

The third quarter hubbub could have distracted the Mountaineers from the task at hand but didn’t.

The defense, in particular, stayed focused.

NM stretched the lead to 24-0 on a 11-play, 74-yard drive, highlighted by McConkey and D’Ante Tidwell’s collaboration.

An 18-yard McConkey to Tidwell pass was a key play. So was a 26-yard run by McConkey and a 15-yarder by Tidwell.

The duo teamed for the TD on a six-yard slant pass that McConkey stuck between the 2 and the 3 on Tidwell’s jersey.

North Murray closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter when McConkey hit Burrell with a 36-yard connection.

“Our kids played hard,” said Coach Preston Poag. “They worked hard for this championship and I couldn’t be more proud of this group of seniors.”


McConkey had 148 yards on 13 carries. He added 128 passing yards, connecting on 12 of 16 attempts. For the season, he has 14 passing touchdowns and seven rushing TDs.

D’Ante Tidwell added 61 yards on the ground. As a team, the Mountaineers piled up 263 rushing yards. Tidwell added four catchs for 25 yards.

Landon Burrell caught two passes for 48 yards.

“We started slow,” said Poag. “But we kept playing hard. We’ve got to cut out the turnovers.”

North Murray surrendered three fumbles and an interception.