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Virginia 2015–2016 Fall Wild Turkey Harvest Summary

A total of 3,283 wild turkeys were harvested in Virginia during the 2015–2016 fall turkey hunting season. While data suggest Virginia's turkey population is at record levels for modern times, fall harvests will fluctuate due to a number of factors. These factors include annual variation in turkey productivity, mast conditions, and weather. Turkey productivity, or "the hatch", can vary widely due to weather conditions in May and June. In 2015, productivity (2.5 poults/hen) was slightly below our long-term average (2.7 poults/hen). Acorn abundance, which varies each year, significantly impacts fall turkey hunter success rates. In years with abundant acorns, wild turkey home ranges are small, making them harder for hunters to find. Conversely, without acorns, turkeys range further and hunter success rates increase. This year's acorn production, particularly white oak, was spotty, likely increasing hunter success.

One of the goals of the Department's Wild Turkey Management Plan is to promote fall turkey hunting. In 2015, the Youth and Apprentice Hunting day was expanded to include Sundays. Harvest during this special weekend totaled 57 birds. Virginia's Jefferson and George Washington National Forests offer significant opportunities for fall turkey hunting. The turkey harvest on our National Forests declined from 132 birds in 2014–15 to 116 birds in 2015–16. Due to limited acorn abundance, turkeys may have shifted their home ranges from the primarily forested National Forests to private lands with greater abundance of open land habitat types.

2015–2016 Fall Harvest Summary by County

Season/Method Number Harvested % Total Harvest
Total Harvest 3,283 100%
Youth/Apprentice 57 <2%
Season Summary
Early (Archery) 166 5%
Oct–Nov (Firearms) 1,241 39%
Thanksgiving 482 15%
December 1,041 33%
January 180 6%
Weapon
Shotgun 1,269 37%
Rifle 1,026 31%
Muzzleloader 577 18%

Virginia Fall Wild Turkey Harvest 1951–2015