Turkeys Plentiful for Spring Hunters
Turkey hunters in the Rocket-Courier readership area heading afield for the upcoming youth and regular spring gobbler seasons should have an excellent chance at success, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).
Mary Jo Casalena, PGC wild turkey biologist, expects above average harvests in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 3B and 3C.
In WMU 3B, which includes all of Sullivan County and southern portions of Bradford and Wyoming Counties, Casalena is optimistic.
“Expect an excellent spring harvest, which also will be well above the statewide average,” Casalena said. “Due to the record reproduction in 2008, there still should be some wary three-year-old gobblers in the population. Spring 2009 reproduction was above average, so there also are plenty of the most sought after two-year-old gobblers. This could be a record harvest for the WMU.”
The harvest could almost be as strong in WMU 3C, which includes all of Susquehanna County and northern portions of Bradford and Wyoming Counties.
“Although the 2011 spring is expected to be below the record harvests of the last two years, expect the spring harvest to remain above average for this WMU and well above the state average,” Casalena said. “There remains higher than average populations of three-year and older gobblers, and these present the most challenging age classes to harvest, so pre-season scouting will improve hunters’ opportunities this spring.”
The state’s one-day youth spring gobbler season is April 23 with hours from one-half hour before sunrise until noon.
Hunters will have extended hours in the second half of the nearly month-long general spring gobbler season that runs from April 30 through May 31. From April 30 through May 14, the hunting hours will be from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. During the remainder of the season, hunting hours will end one-half hour after sunset.
“Although all-day hunting will increase disturbance of nesting hens, the impact will be minimal because all-day hours will only cover the last two weeks of the season,” Casalena said. “By then, hunting pressure decreases and most hens are in their later stages of nest incubation, at which point they are less likely to abandon their nest if disturbed.”
Casalena said the agency will monitor the afternoon harvest in relation to population trends and age class of gobblers to gauge the impact of all-day hunting.
Turkey is the second-most popular game species for hunters, behind only white-tailed deer, in Pennsylvania. The state has one of the most prolific wild turkey populations in the county.
On average there are 232,000 spring gobbler hunters in the state. Last year’s estimated spring harvest was 44,788 turkeys.
Unfortunately, spring gobbler hunting has also proven to be the most dangerous for hunters, and the game commission urges taking every safety precaution.
“Safety must be the foremost consideration of every turkey hunter,” said Keith Snyder, PGC Hunter-Trapper Education division chief.
“If every hunter followed the state’s hunting regulations and positively identified his or her target as legal game before squeezing the trigger, we could eliminate hunting-related shooting incidents during the spring gobbler season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.”
During the youth hunt on April 23, both junior license holders, under age 16, and Mentored Youth Hunting Program participants, age 12 and under, must be accompanied by an unarmed and licensed adult mentor, aged 21 or more.