RALEIGH — Wild turkey hunting season opens in North Carolina on April 3. The youth season is April 3–9, and the statewide season is April 10–May 8. Hunters are limited to two turkeys for the season, only one of which may be taken during the youth season.
Last year, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission documented a record high turkey harvest during the five-week hunting season. The statewide harvest increased by 28 percent and the youth harvest increased by 110 percent compared to the average of the three previous years. The increase is likely due to North Carolinians spending more time outdoors due to COVID-19.
Chris Kreh, the Commission’s upland game bird biologist, confirmed that North Carolina’s wild turkey population remains robust despite last year’s increase in hunting pressure and harvest.
“Our agency has safeguards in place to ensure that overharvest does not occur,” Kreh said. “Five weeks of hunting is conservative compared to most states, and hunters must comply with a two-bird limit and may only take male or bearded birds.”
Kreh added that the timing of the state’s harvest season is strategic.
“The season dates offer considerable opportunity for breeding before males are harvested. Hens are able to nest and raise poults as they always do.”
Last week, the agency published a gobbling chronology report summarizing the findings of a four-year-study that tracked wild turkey gobbling activity across the state. The data confirmed high levels of gobbling activity throughout April and May, which likely leads to high levels of hunter satisfaction.
The youth season is open to anyone under the age of 18, and hunters age 16 and 17 must have hunting licenses. Those under 16 are exempt from license requirements provided they are accompanied by a licensed adult who is at least 18 years of age. Youth who have licenses or a hunter education card may hunt without adult supervision. All hunters are must report their turkey harvest on a Big Game Harvest Report Card.
Hunting licenses can be purchased on the agency’s website, and hunter education courses are available across the state and online. All in-person courses require participants to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity such as poaching or baiting may be eligible to receive a reward (up to $1,000) by reporting information that leads to a conviction to the Turn-In-Poachers program. For information on eligible violations and to learn how to submit a tip, visit ncwildlife.org/wildtip.
For information about turkey hunting, including hunter safety and where to hunt, visit ncwildlife.org.