Fall turkey hunters harvested 948 birds during the 2017 season, which puts the fall harvest down 54 percent compared to the 2016 season. The harvest, however, is only 23 percent below the five-year average.
“As predicted in the 2017 Mast Survey and Hunter Outlook, we expected this fall’s harvest to be down from a year ago,” said Mike Peters, game bird project leader. “In 2016, the turkey population was bolstered by the emergence of the 17-year cicada, which young turkeys eat. Last season also was the first year all 55 counties had at least a one-week season. Both factors resulted in an above-average fall harvest in 2016.”
The 2017 season is more on par with a typical season, Peters said. Brood production was down from last year, and mast conditions are good, meaning birds are more dispersed. These conditions make it more difficult for hunters to bag a bird.
Leading the state in harvested birds is Greenbrier County with 64 birds, followed by Preston (55), Monroe (51), Randolph (38), and Nicholas County (36). The top five counties had a four-week season, except Preston County, which had a two-week season.
District 4 harvested 212 birds, followed by District 1 at 200, District 3 at 173, District 6 at 147, District 2 at 134 and District 5 at 82.
The 14 counties in West Virginia’s central mountains that have a four-week season accounted for 39 percent of the state’s fall turkey harvest.