Turkey Harvest Grows – Davie County Enterprise Record

For the first time in several seasons, my son and I did not contribute to the North Carolina wild turkey harvest during the month-long season that ended a few weeks ago.

We only had two gobblers on the pre-season lane cameras, and one of them disappeared before opening day. The other Tom, a fat rascal we nicknamed Elvis, well, he left the building after a duel with my son on the third Saturday of the season. I had my shotgun safety removed twice, with the turkey in range, but it never presented a worthy shot.

Apparently ours was an unusual season, as according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, it was a great month for most turkey hunters, with the harvest topping the 20,000 mark for only the third time since the Commission began keeping records in 1977.

Updated harvest figures for the season, which ended May 7, showed hunters tagged 20,576 turkeys, the third highest total on record behind the record 2020 season (23,431) and the 2021 season (21,974).

Some of the numbers are, well, staggering. Just a decade ago, it was rare for an individual county to cross the 300 mark, and it was usually Caswell County, one of the few large counties along the Virginia border. who generally directed the harvest; Alleghany, Ashe, Stokes, Rockingham and Person were others.

This spring more than 300 birds were killed in 21 counties, and from the counties bordering Virginia the only present was Rockingham, with 354. The crop is now dominated by counties in the southeast agricultural belt, roughly those along the I-40 corridor between Raleigh and Wilmington and their neighbors.

Hunters in Duplin County tagged 748 birds and four other counties harvested more than 500 birds: Bladen (569), Penderon (565), Columbus (541) and Brunswick (518). Twenty years ago, these counties were simply supplied with turkeys that the Commission had trapped in other counties or obtained from other states through the National Wild Turkey Federation’s “super fund.”

But don’t let the numbers fool you. The major counties are all sprawling, largely agricultural counties drained by countless waterways. They are huge, many with over 500 square miles of habitat, so even in the best areas hunters still take just over one turkey per square mile – numbers that match smaller, traditionally rich counties. turkeys from northwestern North Carolina and northern Piedmont.

The percentage of jakes – yearling male turkeys – in the crop was about 16, which has been about the norm for the past few years. Hunters who abandon jakes are usually rewarded with more mature, gobbling birds in subsequent seasons.

Another fishing decision

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries implemented some new regulations on the shrimp trawling industry in state waters, but came nowhere close to what conservation groups and groups representing recreational fishers.

On May 15, Amendment 2 to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan came into effect. It prohibits shrimp trawling in the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin and Bogue Sound and its tributaries, except the Intracoastal Waterway, prohibits all trawling in crab spawning sanctuaries, and limits the amount of shrimp that can be caught in cast nets and kept by recreational fishers. fishermen: 48 pints with head or 30 pints without head.

DMF also promised to look into other areas of concern in the shrimp trawl fishery. Recreational anglers outnumber commercial anglers in North Carolina by a ratio of about 50 to 1.

Conservation groups have argued that the shrimp trawling industry is causing harm to North Carolina fish; for every pound of shrimp produced by trawlers, surveys indicate that several pounds of juvenile fish – croaker, spot, speckled trout, lake trout, mullet, menhaden, etc. – are sacrificed. And trawling is permitted throughout Pamlico Sound, one of the east coast’s major nursery areas for fish popular with the hook-and-line crowd.

The Commission will likely codify another decision next week when it meets in Beaufort. He will discuss the final approval of Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, which reduces the recreational creel limit for Southern Flounder to one per day – during a six-week August season. to September – and allows commercial fishers to continue to sail 70% of all flounder harvested annually in North Carolina. The number of dabs is down.

Sharon P. Juarez