Pa. Game Commission issues optimistic report about upcoming fall turkey season

STAFF REPORT
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The Pennsylvania Game Commission is reporting that the upcoming 2021 fall turkey season has the potential to be sizable, despite declining harvests in recent years.

The season kicks off Saturday in 19 of Pennsylvania’s 23 Wildlife Management Units.

York County, along with Lancaster County, is located almost entirely within Wildlife Management Unit 5B, where the fall turkey season runs from Nov. 2-4. The southern parts of Dauphin and Lebanon counties are also within 5B, as is western Berks County. Adams County and Cumberland County, meanwhile, are mostly in 5A, where there will be no fall turkey season.

The Game Commission is reporting that turkey reproduction was well above average this past summer, which it says should translate to above-average fall flock sizes.

It should be noted that the 2021 fall turkey season is shorter in 14 WMUs and there is no fall season in WMUs 5A, 5C or 5D.  Shotguns, archery tackle or muzzleloading firearms are the only lawful implements that may be used. Centerfire and rimfire rifles are no longer permitted for fall turkey hunting.

Where fall turkey seasons are held, season lengths vary by WMU. Hunters are advised the three-day Thanksgiving season will be held only in four WMUs this year, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2E in western Pennsylvania, and, like last year, the season will run the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving. 

Fall turkey season lengths are as follows:

WMUs 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E – Oct. 30-Nov. 6.

WMU 2B (shotgun and bow and arrow only) – Oct. 30-Nov. 19 and Nov. 24-26.

WMUs 2C, 2D and 2E – Oct. 30-Nov. 13 and Nov. 24-26.

WMUs 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C – Oct. 30-Nov. 13.

While fall turkey hunters no longer are required to wear fluorescent orange, the Game Commission still highly recommends the use of orange when not required, especially while moving.

Declining harvests: Statewide in recent years, Pennsylvania fall harvests have been declining. The Game Commission is reporting that is due to shorter seasons, fewer hunters, smaller fall flocks and varying mast crops. Last fall, the turkey harvest was estimated at 8,500, which was 8% less than the 2019 estimate of 9,000.

Meanwhile, the number of fall turkey hunters increased to an estimated 100,100 in 2020, up from an estimated 95,800.

Fall turkey hunter success in 2020 was 8.4%, similar to the previous three-year average of 8.7% and a slight decrease from the previous 10-year average of 9.3%.