For properly licensed junior hunters, Saturday, April 21 marks the annual youth spring turkey hunt in Pennsylvania. It’s a special opportunity for youth to get a shot at a gobbler before the regular statewide season opens April 28.
And when junior and adult hunters go afield for the spring gobbler season that ends May 31, the prospects of connecting with a long-beard are good according to Mary Jo Casalena, PGC wild turkey biologist.
Said Casalena, “Turkey’s are coming through after a relatively mild winter. And they had a tremendous acorn crop last fall to help them with winter survival. That, plus a light fall harvest – preliminarily estimated at 11,780 – sparked by greater supplies of fall foods and fewer hunters afield, helped kindle increased expectations for the spring hunt.”
Casalena says the forecast for this season has a statewide turkey population of between 210,000 to 220,000 birds, but remains below their peak of 280,000 in 2001. This is still better than a recent low of 192,612 in 2010, with increases in one and two-year age classes.
Last spring, hunters took 38,101 birds in the state’s turkey seasons. And Casalena expects a similar harvest this spring of between 36,000-38,000 turkeys. This is considering that Pennsylvania turkeys are coming off a tough year in which spring and summer rains in 2017 hampered poult survival in some areas of the state. But they were helped, said Casalena, by recent mild winters.
Last spring, the PGC says 5,049 turkeys were taken with a second spring gobbler license. This was from 20,529 hunters who purchased second gobbler licenses.
The PGC reminds hunters that the second spring gobbler license is only on sale prior to the start of the season. Once April 28 comes, it’s too late to purchase one.
Here are a few reminders from the PGC regarding the spring turkey season:
*Hunting hours from April 28 through May 12 are one-half hour before sunrise and ends at noon for the first two weeks.
*Hunting hours from May 14 through May 31 are from one-half hour before sunrise until one half hour after sunset.
*Only bearded birds may be taken and hunting is permitted by calling only – stalking is unlawful and unsafe.
*Hunting blinds must be manufactured with manmade materials and block movement from an observer outside the blind. It’s unlawful to use blinds made of natural materials such as logs, tree branches and piled rocks.
*Blinds that represent the fanned tail of a gobbler are unlawful to use in Pennsylvania.
*Fluorescent orange is recommended to be worn when moving.
*Successful hunters must immediately and properly tag the bird before moving it from the site. And the harvest must be reported within 10 days, while mentored youth and mentored adult hunters must file their report within five days.
With the mild winter we had, deer ticks are going to be plentiful. So spray with a tick repellent before going afield. But in the event you do pick one up, Tick Key Products and Mossy Oak have partnered in selling a pear shaped key that the makers claim to be 99.9 percent effective in removing ticks. They retail for $9.99 and may be ordered by going to www.tickkey.com.
TURKEY PHOTO CONTEST
The PGC is again sponsoring their second annual Turkey Harvest Photo contest for hunters who submit a photo of themselves with their 2018 bird and pertinent information. Winners will win one of two personalized engraved box calls for adult and youth hunters. Winners will be selected by voters on the PGCs Facebook page. The photo and details may be sent online to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the winners announced on Monday, June 4.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.