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Wild Turkey Hunting Tips & Info -- North Carolina State Hunting Information


State North Carolina
Web Site North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Population & Subspecies 130,000 -- Eastern
Turkey Harvest

9,824 - Spring 2006

9,824 - Spring 2005 ------ Winter 2005 - 174
8,846 - Spring 2004 ------ Winter 2004 - 151
9,862 - Spring 2003

Spring 2006 Results North Carolina hunters broke through the 10,000 barrier. They broke through the 11,000-mark also, killing a record 11,706 turkeys during the month-long season that ended May 6.

"We had pretty good weather for most of the season, and a lot of counties that are not traditional turkey counties have started to pick up, and we had a lot of 2-year-old gobblers out there from the good (hatch) we had in 2004," said Seamster, who has led the commission's wild-turkey project for almost the past 20 years.

Hunters across the state posted extremely good kill numbers - everywhere except Northwest North Carolina, where the kill was basically unchanged from 2005 levels. Statewide, the increase was a whopping 19.1 percent.

In the 11 counties that make up wildlife District 7 in Northwest North Carolina, the kill was up from 1,833 to 1856, an increase of barely one percent.

The kill in Wilkes County fell from 334 to 311 birds, causing the state's top turkey county in 2005 to fall all the way to No. 7 this year. The kill was off in Ashe and Alleghany counties, two of the state's traditional turkey hot spots, but it increased from 306 to 350 in Stokes, ranking that county fifth overall this past season.

Elsewhere in Northwest North Carolina, Forsyth County was up better than 50 percent to 70 birds, Watauga County was up 12 percent to 127, and Alex-ander was up 23 percent to 64.

One possible explanation: poor reproduction last season caused by unseasonably cool, wet weather during the critical 10-day to two-week period after poults were hatched.

That would have resulted in a far lower number of juvenile male turkeys - jakes - in the flock, and the Northwest North Carolina area has always had the highest percentage of jakes in its harvest of any area of the state.

The typical statewide percentage of jakes in the kill is normally between 15 and 20.

In Northwest North Carolina, it typically runs around 30 percent. This season, jakes made up only 13 percent of the overall kill; in Northwest North Carolina, they made up 21 percent of the kill.

"From what I've heard, most of the turkeys that were taken were 2-year-old birds," Seamster said.

"There weren't many jakes in the harvest, and there weren't that many older birds."

Caswell County returned to the No. 1 spot with a kill of 399 birds, and counties from the Northern Piedmont dominated the harvest rankings, with Granville third with 362 birds, Rockingham sixth with 341 and Person tied for eighth with 288.

Counties in the Roanoke River area also made big strides, with Halifax County moving into second place with 366 birds killed, Northampton taking fourth with 356 and Bertie tying for eighth with 288.

A record seven counties had harvests of more than 300 birds, with hunters in 16 counties taking more than 200 birds. With spring-turkey season open in all 100 counties, at least 100 birds were taken in 48 different counties.

"We had some eastern counties get up three, places way down there like Pender and Bladen, where the birds are really beginning to take off." Seamster said.

"We had more than 100 birds taken in almost half our counties, and we had some of our traditional turkey counties like Alleghany, Ashe and Wilkes - and Caswell - that are still below what they were a couple of years ago."

Seamster said that it would probably take fantastic reproductive success this year for hunters to come close to the record level in next year's spring season.

"We'll probably come down to earth next year, because we won't have that many 2-year-old birds in the woods, but a lot of that will depend on whether we have a good hatch this year," Seamster said. "If we're fortunate, we'll have a lot of jakes in the woods next year. There will be some older birds, but there won't be too many 2-year-olds."

Spring Season Info

2006 Season Dates: April 8 - May 6 (statewide except Wilson County)

Youth - April 1

Bag Limit: 1 bearded turkey per day, 2 per season

Legal Hours: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.


Winter Season Info

Fall 2005 - The season runs Jan. 16-21, 2006 in Ashe, Alleghany, Caswell, Granville, Person, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Watauga and Wilkes counties on private lands only. Hunters may use dogs to scatter birds in flocks and may take one turkey during the winter season. Last January, hunters killed 151 turkeys, with Stokes leading the list with 23.

Season Dates: Jan 16 - 21

Bag Limit: 1 any sex

Legal Hours: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Spring 2004 Report

For only the third time in the past 21 seasons, the statewide turkey kill dropped. The recorded kill for 2004 was 8,841 turkeys, down more than 1,000 from 2003.

More turkeys were killed in Wilkes County during the recent month-long turkey season than anywhere else in North Carolina. For the first time since the commission began keeping records in 1974, Caswell County has been unseated from the No. 1 spot.

Hunters in Wilkes County killed 365 turkeys this season, up from 329 in 2003 but still well behind its 395 birds in 2002. Caswell was second with 312, followed by Granville with 296, Person with 257 and Stokes with 254. Two other Northwest counties, Alleghany and Ashe, were ranked No. 8 and No. 11, respectively.

2004 Reported Spring Wild Turkey Harvest
Top Ten Counties

1. Wilkes (365)
2. Caswell (312)
3. Granville (296)
4. Person (257)
5. Stokes (254)
6. Rockingham (251)
7. Rutherford (250)
8. Alleghany (228)
9. Burke (214)
10. Halifax (209)


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