Gobbler season

Hunter Stankwich with a 19-pound, double-bearded tom (one 8 inches and the other 10), taken at his family’s farm in the Augusta area this spring

Hampshire County’s numbers were up slightly, but the state total was down 10% in spring gobbler season, the Division of Natural Resources reported Monday.

Hunters here bagged 209 wild turkeys in the 5-week season, the highest total in the last 5 years and up nearly 20% from last spring.

But Hampshire is part of DNR’s District 2, and the 8-county region lagged the other 5 districts by far in kill totals this year.

Hunters in District 2 took 1,048 turkeys, just about average for the last 5 years in the Eastern Panhandle.

In comparison, the 12-county District 1 that encompasses the Northern Panhandle and much of north central West Virginia, had 2,298 turkeys taken — and that was its lowest total in 5 years.

That decline helped fuel the state’s 10.4% yearly decline, with 10,134 turkeys taken this year compared to 11,320 in 2020.

 “Even though our turkey population appears relatively stable, we will always experience ebbs and flows in population abundance and accordingly our harvest,” said Mike Peters, wild turkey project leader for WVDNR.

WVDNR field staff observed relatively low turkey production in 2019 compared to the previous 5 years. Peters said most turkeys harvested during the spring season are 2 years old and that this year’s harvest reflects the lower production in 2019.

The 5 counties with the highest turkey harvest were Mason (364), Preston (343), Jackson (323), Kanawha (299) and Harrison (271) counties.

During the two-day youth season, young hunters harvested 487 turkeys. The youth harvest made up 5.7 percent of the season's total harvest. Youth numbers are included in the table below with county totals.

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