Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improved Turkey Hunting Expected This Spring

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improved Turkey Hunting Expected This Spring

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania is consistently ranked one of the top turkey hunting states. This year's spring gobbler hunters will participate in the program's 50th year.

"Pennsylvania's turkey population will provide plenty of excitement for those who choose to head afield for the Commonwealth's golden anniversary spring turkey hunt," said Mary Jo Casalena, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wild turkey biologist, in a statement. "Make no mistake, Pennsylvania remains one of America's premier turkey-hunting destinations."

The state's annual youth spring turkey hunt for junior hunters and mentored youth is April 21. Junior hunters and mentored youth can also hunt in the statewide spring gobbler season, which opens April 28.

Last year the birds were beginning to recover from a challenging year. Casalena said frequent spring and summer rains in 2017 hampered poult survival in some areas. A light fall harvest estimated at around 12,000 left more fall foods, and fewer hunters helped to boost expectations for the spring hunt. A huge 2017 acorn crop helped turkeys get through extreme cold and deep snows from late December through early February.

"Last spring, hunters took 38,101 birds in the state's turkey seasons. I expect a similar harvest this spring, somewhere between 36,000 and 38,000 turkeys," Casalena said. "The lighter fall harvests, mild winters and increased acorn crops over the past two years, however, could support increased reproduction this spring . but our spring weather will have to cooperate."

Pennsylvania's turkey population peaked at about 280,000 in 2001, said Casalena, with substantial fluctuations every three to four years. The egg-production cycle is heavily influenced by habitat quality, weather, predation and harvest. Overall, she said, the population is slowly increasing from a bottoming out at about 193,000 in 2010, with increases in the one- and two-year age classes. …

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