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West Virginia hunters check in more than 2,000 fall turkeys

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Preliminary numbers show fall turkey hunters checked in 2,066 turkeys this fall, according to Chris Ryan, supervisor of Game Management Services for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). This was the first time in recent history that all 55 counties were open to a fall season.

The fall turkey harvest was up 82 percent from 2015. The top 10 counties were Nicholas (140), Randolph (116), Preston (105), Upshur (92), Webster (91), Wood (84), Greenbrier (74), Mason (64), Wyoming (62) and Monroe (61). The 14 “traditional” fall hunting counties accounted for 37 percent of the total fall turkey harvest.

All six DNR districts had higher harvests compared to 2015. District 3 led the state with a harvest of 564 birds, followed by District 1 (412), District 4 (368), District 6 (275), District 5 (238) and District 2 (209).

“Hunter participation, recruitment of turkeys into the population, and availability of hard mast account for most of the variability in fall turkey harvests,” Ryan said. “Although acorns were more plentiful in 2016, increased reproduction and having more counties open to fall hunting led to a better harvest, as was predicted in the 2016 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook.”

The 17-year cicada, which emerged in 2016 across much of the state, increased poult survival in areas of cicada abundance. This high-protein food source helped in turkey reproduction which was noted by an increased number of broods observed throughout much of the State in 2016, according to Ryan.

“In addition, hunters enjoyed the new season format that enabled them to chase this magnificent bird throughout the entire state.”