There will be yelps, cackles and purrs emanating from Pennsylvania’s woodlands Saturday, May 30, when the much anticipated and popular spring turkey hunting season opens in most wildlife management units of the state.
Actually, the season began this past Saturday for junior and youth mentored hunters and continues beginning this weekend.
According to Mary Jo Casalena, PGC turkey biologist, the prospects look good based on the last summer’s turkey reproduction statewide. Casalena reported that along with summer sightings, it revealed 3.1 poults (young turkeys) per hen on average. That was the highest in recent years she offered.
“With all those 2-year old gobblers available, there’s great reason for optimism for the 2023 spring gobble season. There are other gobblers out there as well including wily, mature 3-year old birds and older that are perhaps tougher to fool. And with poult production in 2022 just as good as the year before, jakes or 1-year old gobblers abound,” she explained.
Casalena goes on to say that with 172,000 people, on average hunting spring turkeys every year, some will bag a bird while others won’t. Successful hunters are the ones who do a lot of scouting pre-season. She contends that nosier birds tend to be more callable to the gun.
“If you don’t see or hear many turkeys where you’re scouting, try a different area. Where you heard birds last year isn’t necessarily where you’ll hear or find them this year. And halfway through the season, or toward the end, return to areas you heard turkeys before the season. Chances are some are still there and if you stay all morning or all day, a gobbler could some in quietly,” she offers.
As a reminder, hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise and end at noon for the first two weeks of the season that runs until May 13. From May 13 through May 30, hunting hours are from one half-hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
Other reminders are that wearing fluorescent orange is not a requirement but is recommended while moving through the woods. And for hunters using a blind, they must be made with manmade materials of sufficient density to block movement within the blind from an observer outside the blind. Blinds must completely enclose the hunter on all four sides and from above. It’s unlawful to hunt turkeys from blinds made of natural materials such as logs, tree branches and piled rocks. Blinds that represent the fanned tail of a gobbler, do not hide all hunter movement and are unsafe and therefore unlawful to use in Pennsylvania.
If successful in bagging a gobbler, don’t forget to report it via the PCCs website (www.pgc.pa.gov) on the Report a Harvest link, by calling 800-838-4431, or by mailing it in. These reports, said Casalena, are important to managing turkeys as they allow the PGC to estimate harvest and population trends.
And one more thing. Ticks, lots of ticks this season because of a relatively mild winter. Turkey hunters need to spray-up with a good tick repellent. If you’re lucky to bag a bird, guaranteed the bird will probably be loaded with them. With the new tick being publicized, a repellent is a necessity from hat to boots.
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.