2018 North Carolina Spring Turkey Hunting Outlook
February 21, 2018
North Carolina's 60,000 wild turkey hunters harvested 18,819 birds in the spring season of 2017. It was a new harvest record, beating the former harvest record of 18,409 birds set in 2013. It was also an increase of 5 percent over the 2016 harvest of 17,932 turkeys.
However, turkey densities have changed over the years, with some areas benefitting from a larger number of gobblers and while some other areas have had flat populations or even suffered through population downturns. Many factors come into play with respect to turkey numbers and hunter success, which are themselves of course intertwined. Habitat is one factor, as human beings change the landscape for the better or worse through urbanization, agricultural and forestry practices. Another big factor is weather. Poor spring and summer nesting and brood conditions are the primary factors impacting turkey numbers if the birds' habitat needs are met. Still another is hunting pressure on the gobblers. If hunters take too many toms during one hunting season and they are not replaced through recruitment, the following seasons may find the forests and fields filled with fewer gobbling birds during the spring breeding season.