2016 Spring Gobbler Harvest Summary
A total of 17,243 turkeys were harvested in Virginia during the 2016 spring turkey season. While Virginia's turkey population is believed to be at record levels for modern times, the 2016 spring harvest declined 16% compared to last year. Unlike any year in recent history, unfavorable weather conditions experienced throughout much of the hunting season likely played a predominant role in the spring harvest decline this year. Across the state, the season opened with cold, windy and wet conditions and ended with 12–15 consecutive days of precipitation, including snow in the western highlands during the last weekend. The harvest on Saturdays and Sundays accounted for 31% and 11% of the season total, respectively. Because weekends contribute significantly to our spring harvest, poor weather on these days negatively impacts hunter success and the total turkey harvest.
Youth and apprentice hunters took advantage of the new Youth and Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunting Weekend tagging 598 birds, a 33% increase over 2015. Most of the increase is due to the longer season (2 days in 2016 vs. 1 day in 2015), but comparing the Saturdays alone, the 2016 harvest was higher. Recruiting new hunters is a key expectation in Virginia’s Wild Turkey Management Plan; moving the Youth and Apprentice Season harvest to a higher level is a positive sign. Many outstanding turkeys were harvested during the season; however, Mr. Billy Rhea of Virginia Beach harvested a truly outstanding bird. Billy's bird had 2 beards, weighed 32 pounds, and had spurs that measured 2 3/8 inches each in length. While 32 pounds is outstanding, the heaviest bird reported to the National Wild Turkey Database was a 38 pound "Tom" killed in Kentucky.
|Season/Method||Number Harvested||% Total Harvest|
|Youth & Apprentice||598||3.5%|
|East of Blue Ridge||11,050||64%|
|West of Blue Ridge||6,193||36%|
|Top 10 Counties|