2022 Spring Turkey Harvest Results
By DWR Press Release
The Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) announced a harvest of 19,711 turkeys during the 2022 spring turkey season. This is the fourth highest spring turkey harvest on record, the three highest harvests events that occurred in 2015, 2021 and 2020. Ryan Brown, Executive Director of DWR, said, “Spring turkey season in Virginia continues to provide exciting opportunities for people to connect with nature. , family and friends while helping to conserve the state’s wildlife resources.
The 2022 harvest was well in line with DWR staff expectations, and the slightly lower harvest this season appears to be due to lower opening weekend attendance due to poor weather. Much of the western part of the state experienced cold and windy conditions, with several counties reporting snow on opening day. The opening weekend harvest was down approximately 28% from the Spring 2021 turkey harvest. This difference was minimized over the remaining 5 weeks of the season as harvest totals did not change. were only 4% lower than last year.
As in previous years, more birds were harvested east of Blue Ridge (66%) than west of Blue Ridge (34%). The Eastern harvest was down around 7% from 2021, while the Western harvest was up around 3%. Adult gobblers (those with a beard at least 7″ long) made up 86% of the total harvest, while juvenile gobblers called “jakes” (those with a beard less than 7″ long) made up 14% of the harvest Turkey harvests took place mainly in the morning (91%) compared to the afternoon (8%).
The majority of the spring turkey harvest took place on private land (94%). Crown land hunters (federal and state) accounted for 6% of the total spring harvest, which was almost the same as 2021. The majority of federal land harvesting took place in the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest where a total 639 birds were taken, 13% less than in 2021 (737 birds).
Although some states in the region are reporting declining harvests and spring turkey populations, Virginia appears to be a bright spot regionally. Considering three of the season’s top 4 harvests have come since 2020, there’s plenty of room for optimism in Virginia’s turkey antlers. However, this optimism is tempered somewhat by the realization that there are several areas in the Commonwealth where the DWR Wild Turkey Management Plan calls for increased populations. DWR biologists monitor these areas for potential management solutions. More details on the turkey harvest can be found at: https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/turkey.
For harvest information by county, please visit the DWR Wild Turkey webpage.