HARRISBURG, PA - Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season kicks off Saturday, Oct. 28 in 19 of Pennsylvania’s 22 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs.) The fall season is closed in WMUs 5A, 5C and 5D. For the remaining WMUs, the season lengths are as follows: WMUs 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E – Oct. 28-Nov. 4; WMU 2B – Oct. 28-Nov. 17 and Nov. 22-24; WMUs 2A, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C – Oct. 28-Nov. 11; WMU 2C, 2D & 2E – Oct. 28-Nov. 11 and Nov. 22-24; and WMU 5B – Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Hunters are advised that the three-day Thanksgiving season again will run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
As a reminder, no single-projectile firearms may be used in the fall turkey seasons. Hunters may use shotguns and archery gear only.
While fall turkey hunters no longer are required to wear fluorescent orange, the Game Commission highly recommends the use of orange, especially while moving.
Fall turkey hunting
Everyone who purchases a hunting license receives one fall turkey tag, as well as one spring tag. During the fall season any turkey can be harvested, and female turkeys make up over 50% of the fall harvest. When turkey populations are below goal in a WMU, the fall season structure is reduced to allow more female turkeys to survive to nesting. In 2021, season length in 15 WMUs was shortened, or closed, and the use of centerfire or rimfire rifles was eliminated. The 2022 statewide fall harvest (7,600 turkeys) was 12% greater than 2021 (6,800 turkeys). Statewide fall hunter participation (70,500 hunters) was 14% less in 2022 than in 2021 (81,500 hunters). Fall hunter success of 10.8% was 29% greater than the 8.4% in 2021.
Since 2012 there have been one or fewer turkey-hunting related shooting incidents each year, and 2022 marked the sixth year with no incidents. The other years with no incidents were 2012, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2021.
Turkey reproduction in 2023, as measured by the number of poults observed per all hens observed, varied by WMU, and at the statewide scale was relatively average compared to the previous 4 years.
"This translates to variable flock sizes for the fall season depending on the WMU" said Game Commission wild turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena. "And, expect to find flocks concentrated on available food sources, such as areas with acorn production or agricultural areas."
Casalena also encourages hunters to cover a lot of ground in areas where acorn or beechnut production is abundant because flocks are not constrained by limited food. Where food is abundant, determining turkey movement patterns around that food will improve hunting success.
Harvests and reporting
Successful fall turkey hunters must tag their birds according to instructions provided on the printed harvest tags supplied with their licenses, then report harvests.
Mentored hunters under age 7 may receive, by transfer, a fall turkey tag supplied by their mentor.
The turkey must be tagged immediately after harvest and before the turkey is moved, and the tag must be securely attached to a leg until the bird is prepared for consumption or mounting.
Within 10 days of harvest, turkey hunters must report harvests to the Game Commission, either by going online to the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov, calling toll-free or mailing in a prepaid post card.
Hunters reporting their turkey harvests over the telephone can call 1-800-838-4431 and follow the prompts. Hunters will need to have their license and their copy of the harvest tag in front of them when they make the call. Hunters should record the supplied confirmation number for the turkey reported.
All hunters reporting harvests are asked to identify the WMU, county and township where the bird was taken as well as other information.
Additionally, hunters may harvest a turkey that has been leg-banded or has a transmitter for research purposes, and if so, they should follow the instructions on the band or the transmitter. Last winter the Game Commission leg-banded more than 900 turkeys, including placing backpack style transmitters on more than 260, in a continuing effort to track turkey populations.
Handling harvested birds
While wild turkeys are highly susceptible to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), their behavior and habitat use place them at less risk of contracting the disease compared to waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and avian scavengers.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses can be carried by wild birds and have been found across the Pennsylvania landscape. To protect themselves and to reduce the risk of spreading this extremely contagious disease to other birds, hunters are advised to practice the following precautions:
- Have dedicated footwear, clothing, and tools that are only used for handling or dressing harvested wild birds.
- Do not handle or harvest wild birds that appear sick or are found dead.
- Wear gloves when handling or dressing harvested wild birds.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke when handling or dressing harvested wild birds.
- Dress harvested wild birds in the field.
- Double bag any offal and feathers that will be removed from the field.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after handling or dressing harvested wild birds.
- Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water after using them, then disinfect with a 10% household bleach solution. Allow to air dry or rinse after 10 minutes of contact time.
- Change footwear and clothing before coming in contact with any domestic poultry or pet birds.
While influenza viruses can infect humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that currently in the United States “viruses circulating in birds are believed to pose a low risk to the general public”.
Any sick or dead domestic birds should be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 717-772-2852.
Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Game Commission at 1-833-PGC-WILD or online using the Wildlife Health Survey tool at www.pgcapps.pa.gov/WHS.
MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541
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