2018 Eastern Turkey Hunting Outlook

Eastern Turkey Hunting Outlook

Spring has just about sprung and turkey hunters across the country are thinking about bagging a trophy tom this season. We're here to help. Game & Fish wants you get the most out of your season with our deep library of turkey hunting articles with expert advice, field reports and previews. Check out the 2018 Turkey Outlook for your state below:


Although turkey population numbers in New England have, along with the rest of the eastern United States, been in a long, slow period of decline, there are still plenty of birds available for hunters who are willing to rise at 3 a.m. and hunt as long as the law allows. 

The joy of spring turkey hunting is that these big birds boldy tell you where they are via their lusty gobbling and, if you play your calls right, will literally come running to the gun – easy, right? 

Some hunts are just that simple, but of course most of the time the process is quite a bit more challenging, such as when a jealous hen decides to intercept your strutting tom at the very last instant. All in all, however, any turkey hunter in New England should be able to find and hunt a lusty longbeard this spring. What happens after that is entirely up to serendipity.

With these basic thoughts in mind, here's a look at each New England state's long-term trends, 2017 spring harvest numbers and....Click To Read Whole Outlook


One of the benefits of being a spring turkey hunter in New York is that even if there's only one tom gobbling on a distant ridge we can still have a hunt. Nesting success, poult production and winter survival statistics will rise and fall from year to year, and even though New York's turkey population is currently in a state of decline there are still plenty of birds available for hunters who hope to set up at dawn and call one into shotgun range.

According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the numbers suggest that our turkey population reached its peak 15 years ago and is slowly but steadily declining due to a variety of conditions ranging from habitat loss, winter severity, nesting failures and disease. 

After reaching their peak around 2001, wild turkey populations declined gradually over the next decade, followed by a more severe decline since 2009. There are several reasons for this; including a natural population contraction as turkey populations settled down to levels more in line with local environmental conditions, and other factors such as density dependence, poor production, and changing habitats and....Click To Read Whole Outlook


At this point in the history of Pennsylvania wild turkey it would take a catastrophe of historic proportions for the prospects for the spring gobbler season to be anything less than good. We should have another Thanksgiving holiday during the spring gobbler season. Certainly there are ups and downs in local wild turkey populations, but these are relatively minor. To a large extent it appears that manipulation of the fall wild turkey season is doing a very good job of stabilizing the statewide population, while making corrections on a wildlife-management-unit basis.

"I would say the harvest in general will be pretty much like last year — the same percentage of two-year-old gobblers," said Mary Jo Casalena, Turkey Biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Neither you nor I live in all of Pennsylvania, though. We each live in a relatively small area with which we are very familiar. Spring gobbler hunters, bowhunters and the more serious hunters in general are much more familiar with their home territory than the rest of the...Click To Read Whole Outlook

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