HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season kicks off Saturday, Oct. 30 in 19 of Pennsylvania’s 23 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), and hunters have good reason to be excited.

Turkey reproduction was well above average last summer, resulting in above average fall flock sizes that are worth pursuing.

Hunters should take note that the 2021 fall turkey season is shorter in 14 WMUs. There is no fall season in UGF 5A, 5C or 5D. Hunting rifles, archery equipment, or muzzle-loading firearms are the only lawful tools that may be used. Centerfire and rimfire rifles are no longer permitted for fall turkey hunting.

Where the fall turkey seasons are, the length of the seasons varies by UMF. Hunters are told that the three-day Thanksgiving season will only be held at four WMUs this year, WMUs 2B, 2C, 2D, and 2E, and like last year, the season will be on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving. .

The length of the fall turkey season is as follows: WMU 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E – 30 Oct-Nov 6; WMU 2B (shotgun and bow and arrows only) – 30 Oct-Nov November 19 and 24-26; WMU 2C, 2D and 2E – 30 Oct-Nov November 13 and 24-26; WMU 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C – 30 Oct-Nov 13; and WMU 5B – November 2-4.

While fall turkey hunters are no longer required to wear fluorescent orange, the Game Commission strongly recommends using orange when not required, especially when traveling.

Fall Turkey Hunt

Statewide in recent years, Pennsylvania’s fall harvests have declined due to shorter seasons, fewer hunters, smaller fall herds, and varying mast crops. Last fall, the turkey harvest was estimated at 8,500, down 8% from the 2019 estimate of 9,000.

Meanwhile, the number of fall turkey hunters has grown to around 100,100 in 2020, from around 95,800.

The fall turkey hunter success in 2020 was 8.4%, which is similar to the previous three-year average of 8.7% and down slightly from the previous 10-year average of 9.3%.

Season outlook

Field reports of oak pole production vary widely across the state, ranging from acorn shortages in some areas, average harvests in others, and bumper harvests in many places. Find the acorns and you will probably find turkeys.

In areas where acorns are scarce, hunters are encouraged to scour a lot of ground to find herds which will likely concentrate around available food sources. In areas where mast is abundant, hunters are encouraged to scout to determine turkey movement patterns, as turkey flocks will roam more where food is plentiful.

Currently, turkey densities are below management objectives in 15 of 23 FMUs. This trend has been observed across much of the species’ range outside of Pennsylvania.

The Brood X cicada outbreak across much of southern Pennsylvania, coupled with relatively hot and dry late spring weather across much of the state, is believed to have resulted in average turkey survival at above average last summer in 19 of 23 UGFs. The 12 WMUs with above-average recruitment are expected to contain larger-than-average herds this fall. There are fall seasons for turkey in nine of these WMUs (WMU 1B, 2A, 2C, 2G, 2H, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D).

Above-average recruitment in most areas, combined with continued habitat management and lower fall harvests, is consistent with the management objective of helping the population increase.

Harvests and Reports

Successful fall turkey hunters must tag their birds according to the instructions provided on the printed harvest tags provided with their permits and then report the harvests.

Mentee hunters under the age of 7 may receive a fall turkey tag provided by their mentor by transfer.

The turkey should be tagged immediately after harvest and before the turkey is moved, and the tag should be securely attached to a leg until the bird is ready to be eaten or mounted.

Within 10 days of harvest (five days for supervised hunters), turkey hunters must report harvests to the Game Commission, either by going online to HuntFishPA or the Game Commission website, www.pgc .pa.gov, by calling toll-free, or by sending mail in a prepaid postcard.

Hunters reporting their turkey catches over the phone can call 1-800-838-4431. Hunters will need to have their license and copy of the harvest tag in front of them when calling.

All hunters reporting catches are asked to identify the FMU, county and township where the bird was captured.

Additionally, hunters can harvest a turkey that has been leg banded for research purposes, and if so, they must follow the instructions on the band as well. The Game Commission leg banded 479 turkeys last winter in an ongoing effort to determine spring harvest rates and annual survival rates by WMU, tracking turkey populations.

West Nile virus research

The Game Commission 2019 West Nile Virus Inoculation Experimental Study, in cooperation with the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, University of Georgia Department of Population Health (UGA), National Wild Turkey Federation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, studied the susceptibility of wild turkeys and bobwhite quail chicks to WNV infection and subsequent survival.

The Game Commission collected wild turkey eggs from all over Pennsylvania that hatched at UGA. And day-old quail chicks were bought from a reputable hatchery.

UGA researchers inoculated two age classes (6 weeks and 16 weeks) of wild turkeys and bobwhite quail chicks with WNV or a placebo, and monitored them for clinical signs for two weeks. No birds died or showed clinical signs of WNV infection. Results showed that wild turkeys and bobwhite quail chicks are not very susceptible to experimental WNV infection and probably do not serve as reservoir host for WNV transmission from mosquitoes to other species. .

The study also tests wild turkeys harvested in the fall for WNV antibodies, which would mean a bird survived the infection. So far, in this three-year study, the percentage of individual turkeys with antibodies to WNV is higher than that of very susceptible species, such as the sage grouse, suggesting that the turkeys survive the WNV. ‘infection.

Wild turkey blood samples collected in the fall will continue in 2021 in Pennsylvania and several other states to add to the overall sample analysis, which will take into account both demographic and environmental factors of the birds. and sampled regions.

CONTACT WITH THE MEDIA: Travis Lau – 717-705-6541

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