W.Va. records largest spring turkey harvest in five years

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W.Va. records largest spring turkey harvest in five years
A gobbler struts through a pasture in West Virginia in springtime. (Photo courtesy W.Va. Department of Commerce)

FARMINGTON, W.VA. — According to preliminary data released by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources on Wednesday, hunters in the Mountain State harvested 12,217 bearded turkeys during the spring gobbler season.

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According to Brett McMillion, director of the division, the harvest is 30.4 percent above the 2022 harvest of 9,366 birds, 12.6 percent above the five-year average of 10,850 birds, and 14.6 percent above the ten-year average of 10,661. It is the largest harvest since 2018, when 12,287 birds were taken.

"The increased harvest is a testament to the dedicated efforts of our hunters and the successful management of our turkey populations. We’re thrilled to see such encouraging harvest numbers for the spring gobbler season in West Virginia," McMillion said.

"It’s especially exciting to note that this year's harvest surpasses both the five-year and ten-year averages, indicating a positive trend in the turkey population. The W.Va. DNR remains committed to maintaining sustainable wildlife management practices to ensure the long-term health and abundance of turkeys in our state."

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The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources divides the Mountain State into six districts.

Harvest increases were reported in every W.Va. DNR District except District 4, which had a slight decrease. Hunters in District 1 harvested the most birds (2,563), followed by District 6 (2,206), District 5 (2,148), District 4 (1,871), District 2 (1,766), and District 3 (1,663). The top five counties with the highest turkey harvests were Mason (559), Jackson (416), Preston (390), Harrison (357), and Hampshire (347) counties.

West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary James Bailey stressed that hunting is vital to the state's economy.

"I want to congratulate all of our successful hunters who helped make this year’s spring gobbler harvest the best it’s been in five years,” Bailey said.

“Our state’s hunting seasons play a vital role in bolstering our economy and supporting local businesses and communities. Together, we will continue to foster a thriving outdoor industry that sustains our natural resources while providing memorable experiences for residents and visitors alike."

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During the spring 2023 season, youth hunters harvested 781 turkeys, 490 of which were taken on Saturday and 291 on Sunday. This was the fourth year the youth season had been two days. The youth harvest comprised approximately 6.4 percent of the season’s total harvest and is included with county totals in the table below.

West Virginia experienced a similar increase in turkey harvests during the fall 2022 season, during which hunters brought in almost 46 percent more birds than in the fall 2021 season. To learn more about hunting in West Virginia or to buy a hunting license, visit .


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