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
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
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
"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."