Outdoors: A look at fall turkey hunting season
This past Saturday marked the opening of fall turkey hunting season in most Pennsylvania Wildlife Management Units (WMU). But the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) reminds hunters that season lengths vary by WMUs. Added to that, fall turkey season is closed in local WMUs 5C and 5D.
Otherwise, the seasons are as follows: WMU 1B from Oct. 27-Nov. 3; WMU 2B, (shotgun and archery gear only) Oct. 27 & Nov. 22-24; WMUs 1A, 2A (shotgun and archery gear only in Allegheny County); 4A and 4B, Oct. 27-Nov. 3 and Nov. 22-24; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4D and 4E, Oct. 27-Nov. 10 and Nov. 22-24; WMU 2C, Oct. 27-Nov. 16 and Nov. 22-24; WMU 5A, Nov. 1-3; WMU 5B, Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
The fall turkey season differs from the spring season in that any turkey (hens and gobblers) may be harvested.
As for turkey hunting prospects, Mary Jo Casalena, PGC’s wild turkey biologist, reports that last year’s fall harvest of 9,266 was down from 10,884 in 2016 and was 37 percent below the previous three-year average of 14,718. Casalena believes that was caused by a decrease in fall hunting participation and that may be due to aging hunters; hunters focusing on archery deer and bear hunting; shorter fall season lengths in many WMUs; below average turkey reproduction; and an abundant acorn crop that tended to scatter flocks.
Since mast crops are important in finding birds, Casalena said acorn, beech and cherry production is varied across the state, with some areas having average to below-average hard mast. But this, she claims, often keeps flocks congregated where food exists making it easier for hunters to find birds.
Interestingly, Casalena says the Thanksgiving three-day season offers added turkey opportunities and is often a very successful season because about 20 percent of the harvest occurs then.
Insofar as the 2018 spring turkey hunting season went, it totaled 40,303 birds. Of this, 2,048 were taken during the youth season; 571 during regular season mentored hunters season; during the regular season; and 4,062 second bird harvests, which totally was six percent above the 2017 harvest of 38,101.
Additionally, the PGC says hunter success was 21 percent for the first bird, which was the second highest and tied that of the 2001 season. And historically, hunters have consistently maintained spring harvests above 30,000 bearded turkeys since 1955.
Lastly, turkey hunters are reminded to report their harvest and report any leg-banded turkeys they shoot. The leg bands are stamped with a toll-free phone number to call in their report.
After reporting that the fall trout stocking for the Little Lehigh was postponed two weeks ago, we learned it was rescheduled and stocked last week for you die-hard trout anglers.