ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Spring foretells bearded turkey season for the Aberdeen Proving Ground FMWR Hunting Program. The regular season is in full swing April 18 to May 23.FMWR Hunting Program Manager Zach Van Cleave said this year's program has been designed to accommodate more hunters and improve the overall experience.One update to the program is APG hunters, who are eligible to sponsor guests, will be able to include their guests through the entirety of the turkey season. Sponsored guests interested in hunting will still be subject to all the licensing requirements set by the FMWR Hunting Program and the state of Maryland.Hunters that are eligible to sponsor guests include active duty and retired military personnel assigned to APG; Department of the Army civilians assigned to APG and retired civilians of APG; Maryland National Guard troops assigned to APG; multi-year contractors who directly support the mission, and retired military personnel with proof of participation between July 1, 1990, and July 1, 1994.All hunters and guests must possess a Maryland state hunting license, an APG post permit, and hold the necessary firearm qualifications. The hunting program offer a shotgun and archery range for hunters to become proficient with their firearms."Overall, I think hunters will be more satisfied," Van Cleave said, "because the program will not exclude anyone who has purchased an APG permit and is interested in hunting turkeys."Van Cleave believes this will boost participation."So far the program has sold about 65 more turkey permits than in 2011, which tells me that the program has made some positive changes and is definitely headed in the right direction," he said.Van Cleave said the 2012 updates are just a few in a series of changes designed to bring continuous improvement to the program. He noted last year's renovation of APG North's hunting management facility, Bldg. 550B1."Participating in the APG hunting program is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer," said Van Cleave.The FMWR hunting program works closely with APG's marine and wildlife enforcement officers, who ensure hunters are protected by enforcing safety rules and regulations.Before purchasing an APG hunting permit, customers must attend a hunter's safety education class offered through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Some classes are offered on APG. To find a class, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/nrp_classes.asp.In addition to the regular season, a youth turkey hunt is scheduled for April 14 and allows youth 16 and younger to hunt while accompanied by a licensed (Maryland state license and APG permit) unarmed adult age 21 and older."We are looking forward to kicking off our spring season with the youth turkey hunt. It is very satisfying to see parents, grandparents, and other guardians bring their sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters to help them enjoy the outdoors," Van Cleave said. Hunters and prospective hunters can receive information about the upcoming season at Outdoor Recreation, Bldg. 2184. The APG North Hunting Management Facility, Bldg. 550B1, will also have pre-season hours for hunters to sight in their bows and shotguns. Those hours will be April 9 - 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and April 15- 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Turkey permits cost $45 for children under 16 and $50 for adults.The APG North and APG South hunting management facilities will post hours of operation once the regular season begins.Van Cleave said again this year the program will depend heavily on its volunteers for a successful season."We utilize more than 50 volunteers to help the program operate," he said. "FMWR is very thankful to have such a great volunteer base."For information, call Outdoor Recreation at 410-278-4124. Or visit http://www.apgmwr.com/recreation/odr/huntingfishing.html.To find out more about hunting at APG, stop by the hunting management facility or visit www.apgmwr.com, www.apgbowmenclub.com or www.dnr.state.md.us.