Turkey harvest down in Southampton

Published 9:38 am Friday, June 22, 2012

COURTLAND—Southampton County saw a 12 percent decrease in its spring turkey harvest, while Isle of Wight County experienced a 1.9 percent increase.

Hunters in Southampton County took 368 birds during the five-week season to rank 23rd in the state among Virginia’s cities and counties. Hunters in Isle of Wight County harvested 212 birds from April 14 through May 19 and ranked sixth from the top.

“We consider the kill per square mile of forest range as an index to population levels,” said Gary Norman, wild turkey project leader for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The Southampton harvest was .97 birds per square mile of forest range, Norman said. The IOW harvest was 1.15 birds per square mile of forest range.

“Anything near or above one bird per square mile is considered excellent,” he said.

The spring harvest for Southampton County was 426 in 2006, 379 in 2007, 373 in 2008, 438 in 2009, 411 in 2010 and 418 in 2011.

In Isle of Wight, 248 birds were taken in 2006, 203 in 2007, 210 in 2008, 216 in 2009, 223 in 2010 and 208 in 2011.

Norman said he had no information why the 2012 harvest changed in both counties from 2011, but said both are at very high levels for Virginia.

“At best I think we can hope for small incremental gains in counties after they reach these high levels,” Norman said. “I believe the Isle of Wight population is still growing. Southampton appears to have reached a plateau, but I believe there’s hope for Southampton to reach 2006 levels again with a couple of good hatches.”

Spring turkey hunters statewide harvested 15,326 birds during the 2012 season. The statewide harvest was 2 percent lower than last year’s 15,698 birds, according to the Department of Game.

Very little change was seen in counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains but there was a slight decline in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

More than 36 percent of gobblers were taken during the second week of the season than any other week of the season. Nearly 87 percent of birds were harvested with shotguns. Rifles accounted for 7 percent of the harvest while the balance was taken with bows, pistols and muzzleloaders.