Plenty of gobblers for start of turkey season

Published 9:19 am Friday, April 8, 2011

FRANKLIN—When spring turkey season opens Saturday, April 9, hunters can expect plenty of gobblers.

“The turkey population seems very healthy in the southeastern part of the state,” said Aaron Proctor, district wildlife biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

It’s rumored the turkey and deer populations are down in Virginia — something Proctor attributes to a good acorn crop.

“They’re seeing fewer deer and turkey because they are in the woods (instead of the fields) because of the great food source,” he said.

In 2008 and 2009, Southampton County had the fourth highest number of turkey harvests reported to Game and Inland Fisheries at 373 and 438, respectively, according to data collected. Bedford County, which is in the Roanoke area, led both of those years in turkey harvests with 525 and 543, respectively.

Numbers for counties from 2010 are not available, however, statewide 2,687 turkeys were harvested during the 2010-2011 fall turkey season, according to Game and Inland Fisheries. This harvest was 24 percent below the 2009-2010 reported kill of 3,538 birds. The harvest declined 34 percent in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains decreased 15 percent.

Hunters can take three turkeys during the year and one per day, bearded turkeys only.

From Saturday, April 9, through Saturday, April 30, turkey hunting is allowed 30 minutes before sunrise until noon. From Monday, May 2, through Saturday, May 14, it’s 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.