Virginia.gov

Virginia 2013–2014 Fall Wild Turkey Harvest Summary

In Virginia, 5,351 turkeys were harvested during the 2013-14 fall turkey season. The 2013-14 season total was the highest fall harvest reported over the past 9 years. This harvest was 21% above last year's reported kill (4,432). The harvest increased 8% in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (WBR) (1,734 vs 1,869). Counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains (EBR) increased 29% percent (2,698 vs. 3,482). EBR hunters harvested 22 birds per 100 square miles of forest range. The rate was nearly identical in counties WBR where 21 birds were killed per 100 square miles of forest range. Bedford led all counties with a harvest of 167 birds. Most (93%) of the harvest was reported on private lands. Approximately 5% of the harvest was on federal lands. The harvest on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests increased 15% and 11%, respectively. Fifty birds were harvested on the Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day, which is lower than last year (60).

The 2013–14 fall season was the third year where a 2-week turkey hunting was provided in January. The harvest during the January season was 265 birds, a slight increase over the 2012-13 harvest of 245 birds. Many hunters submitted complimentary remarks about the opportunity to hunt in January.

Eleven percent of the state harvest was taken on Thanksgiving Day. In counties EBR more birds were taken the holiday week that included Christmas. In contrast, more birds were taken during the first week of the season in counties WBR.

More birds (41%) were harvested with rifles than other weapons in counties WBR. However, more birds were harvested with shotguns (48%) in counties EBR.

More hunters chose to check their bird on the phone (65%) than at Game Check Stations (19%) or on the Department's web site (15%).

Gary Norman, Wild Turkey Project Leader, indicated the increase in the harvest was expected because populations have risen in recent years and because there were poor mast crops across most of the state. The rise in the turkey population has been attributed to above-average reproduction in 2011 and 2013. Juvenile birds typically make up a majority of the fall harvest, so the strong 2013 hatch contributed to the higher fall harvest.

Mast crops (primarily acorns) were sparse during the fall season. Birds tend to travel further with poor mast crops in search of food which oftentimes takes them near or in openings or fields. As a result, their home ranges increase; therefore, birds become more visible and easier to locate. Under these circumstances, hunting harvest rates increase.

Taken together, record level populations and below-average mast crops contributed to the harvest increase. For more information please contact Gary Norman at gary.norman@dgif.virginia.gov or (540) 248-9360.

Data presented in this summary are preliminary.

Top 10 Counties

2013 2012
Bedford 167 Bedford 151
Pittsylvania 160 Rockbridge 140
Scott 139 Scott 132
Botetourt 137 Botetourt 129
Louisa 122 Halifax 100
Franklin 120 Pittsylvania 98
Shenandoah 112 Amelia 95
Fauquier 110 Shenandoah 92
Caroline 109 Caroline 88
Cumberland 109 Augusta 86
    Brunswick 86