Spring Turkey Season Takes Flight

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The opportunity Pennsylvania hunters have waited out winter for is about to get underway.

Pennsylvania’s spring turkey season kicks off Saturday, April 24 with a one-day youth hunt open to junior license holders and mentored hunters under 16 years old.

Then, on Saturday, May 1, the statewide spring gobbler season opens and runs to May 31.

Popular for its heart-pounding interaction with vocal gobblers, and plentiful chances to enjoy gorgeous spring days afield, Pennsylvania’s only springtime big-game season is one that hunters eagerly await. And the outlook for the coming season is good, said Mary Jo Casalena, Pennsylvania Game Commission wild turkey biologist.

Although the 2020 estimated spring population of 196,200 turkeys was slightly below average, last year’s good summer reproduction and light fall harvest sets the stage for a good population this spring.

“A strong base of adult toms is strutting in our forests and fields in their annual quest for companionship, followed by a healthy population of high-spirited jakes,” Casalena said. “And, there’s an above-average supply of 2-year-olds roaming in many Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). So hunters stand a great chance this spring of bringing home one – maybe even two – of these cabin-fever-chasing birds.”

Properly licensed hunters may harvest two bearded turkeys during the spring turkey season. A general hunting license provides spring-turkey hunting privileges and a tag that can be used to harvest one bird. Additionally, hunters before the start of the statewide season may purchase a Special Spring Turkey License, which enables them to harvest a second bird. Only hunters with the second license can take a second turkey.

Once again last year, second-tag sales set a new record, with 25,524 hunters buying these licenses. It was the fourth consecutive year second-tag sales topped 20,000.

Those second tags led to 3,731 harvests, making for a 15 percent success rate for those who purchased a second tag.

Last spring’s overall estimated harvest was 34,500 turkeys. Sixteen percent of turkey hunters were successful in filling their first tag.

And while bringing home a wary gobbler rarely is easy, it’s a challenge that hundreds of thousands of hunters can’t wait to accept.

All participants in the youth hunt must be accompanied by adults as required by law. A complete list of regulations applying to mentored youth and junior hunters can be found in the 2020-21 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which provided with a hunting license and is available online at www.pgc.pa.gov.

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