West Virginia Spring Turkey Harvest Down Slightly

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Preliminary figures indicate West Virginia hunters harvested 9,485 bearded turkeys statewide during the recently completed 2009 spring gobbler season. This year's spring harvest is approximately four percent below the 9,929 birds taken in 2008.

The top five counties in 2009 were Mason (422), Preston (378), Harrison (310), Upshur (296) and Wood (273). Thirty of the state's 55 counties had lower harvests this spring when compared to 2008. District 6 showed the greatest percentage decline (down 12 percent), followed by District 4 (down nine percent), District 5 (down three percent) and District 1 (down three percent). Higher harvests were reported in District 2 (up three percent) and District 3 (up three percent). District 1 reported the largest kill (2,130 birds), followed by District 4 (1,737), District 6 (1,700), District 5 (1,650), District 3 (1,426) and District 2 (842).

"Just as we saw last year, the 2009 spring turkey season experienced many days of rain," said Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. "This wet weather dampened hunter turnout, reduced gobbling activity and resulted in a lower than expected harvest."

Biologists had forecast a spring harvest of more than 10,000 gobblers for 2009, based on improved brood counts the past two years. "Reports from field personnel during this spring season indicated hunting pressure was lower than normal," said Taylor. "Much of this decrease in hunting can be attributed to the very foul weather conditions."

Looking on the bright side, wildlife biologists expect a good carryover of mature toms. With more favorable weather conditions and sufficient fall foods, there should be an abundance of gobblers for the 2010 spring season.