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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Officials: Va. spring turkey harvest in line with expectations

Officials: Va. spring turkey harvest in line with expectations

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A harvest of 19,711 turkeys during the 2022 spring season was reported by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, the fourth highest spring turkey harvest on record.

Only 2021, 2020 and 2015 provided a larger number.

The 2022 harvest was well within staff expectations, and the slightly lower harvest this season appears to be driven by lower participation on opening weekend caused by poor weather. Much of the western portion of the state experienced cold and wind, with several counties reporting snow on opening day.

The opening weekend harvest was down approximately 28 percent from the 2021 spring turkey harvest. This difference was minimized through the remaining five weeks of the season, as the harvest totals finished only 4 percent lower than last year.


As in previous years, more birds were harvested east of the Blue Ridge (66%) than west (34%). The eastern harvest was down approximately 7 percent from 2021, while the western harvest increased by approximately 3%.

Adult gobblers (those with a beard at least 7” in length) made up 86 percent of the total harvest, while juvenile gobblers known as “jakes” accounted for 14 percent.

Turkey harvests occurred overwhelmingly in the morning (91%) versus the afternoon (8%).

The majority of the spring turkey harvest took place on private lands (94%). Public-land hunters (both federal and state) accounted the remaining 6 percent, which was nearly identical to 2021. A majority of the federal land harvest occurred on the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest where a total of 639 birds were taken, 13% lower than 2021 (737 birds).

Although some states within the region are reporting declining spring turkey harvests and populations, Virginia seems to be a bright spot regionally. Considering that three of the top four season harvests have occurred since 2020, there is considerable room for optimism within Virginia’s turkey woods.

However, that optimism is somewhat tempered with the realization that there are several areas of the commonwealth where DWR’s Wild Turkey Management Plan calls for increasing populations.

More details of the turkey harvest can be found at: https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/turkey.

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