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Pennsylvania fall turkey season has split season

From Pennsylvania Game Commission

-- Pennsylvania hunters can expect to encounter a sizeable wild turkey population when they head afield for the fall turkey season, however hunters need to review fall turkey season dates, because dates have changed.

Season lengths vary in Wildlife Management Units for fall turkey hunting:

WMUs 1A, 1B and 2A (Shotgun and bow and arrow only) - Oct. 29-Nov. 12, and Nov. 24-26; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow only) - Oct. 29-Nov. 18, and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 2C, 2D, 2E, 4A, 4B and 4D - Oct. 29-Nov. 12, and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C and 4E - Oct. 29-Nov. 18, and Nov. 24-26; WMU 5A - Nov. 1-3; and WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D - Closed to Fall Hunting.

The second year of an open season during the Thanksgiving holiday also should improve hunter opportunities Nov. 24-26 in most WMUs. The season was designed to provide additional hunting opportunities for youth and families when schools and businesses are closed and, hopefully, reverse the declining trend of fall turkey hunters.

Hunters in WMU 5A again have a three-day Nov. 1 to 3 season after seven years of a closed fall season implemented to allow the population to increase. The success in managing the WMU 5A turkey population is shown in re-opening the traditional fall turkey hunt. The conservative three-day season is structured to provide recreation without reversing the now expanding population.

The statewide turkey population this past spring prior to nesting was similar to the 10-year average, about 340,000 birds, and a 25 percent increase from its low, in 2005, of 272,000. Generally conservative fall season lengths minimize the overharvest of hens.

Last fall's overall turkey harvest was below average, 15,884, or 34 percent less than the previous five-year average of 24,049. Fall harvests have been declining steadily for the last nine years, mainly because of a decrease in the number of fall turkey hunters and shorter fall season lengths.

Hunters are asked to report turkeys harvested or found with leg-bands or radio-transmitters attached. It is legal to harvest such turkeys, but hunters are asked to call the toll-free number on the band or transmitter and provide information to researchers.

In both spring and fall turkey seasons, it is unlawful to use drives to hunt turkeys. Hunters may take only one turkey in the fall season.

Shot size is limited to No. 4 lead, bismuth-tin, tungsten-iron or No. 2 steel. Hunters are required to tag their bird before moving it and to report the harvest within 10 days.  Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

For more information, see page 14 of the 2011-12 Digest for the legal hunting hours table. Also, it is lawful to use a dog to pursue, chase, scatter and track wild turkeys during the fall wild turkey season. Hunters are prohibited from using dogs to hunt any other big game animal, including spring gobblers. For minimum orange requirements, please see pages 68-69 of the 2011-12 Digest, as the requirements differ depending on the Wildlife Management Unit.

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