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North Carolina records second highest wild turkey harvest

RALEIGH, N.C. — Results from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission report show that hunters statewide recorded the second highest harvest total on record with 21,974 birds. This total falls just short of the all-time record set last year of 23,341 birds.

“Last year’s record harvest was almost certainly due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, when stay-at-home orders and lifestyle changes led to a large increase in hunting pressure.  This year’s high harvest may be partly due to the ongoing pandemic, but it also likely resulted in part from 2019’s hatch that produced an abundance of turkeys across the state,” stated Chris Kreh, the Wildlife Commission’s upland game bird biologist.

To put this year’s wild turkey harvest in perspective, Kreh compared this year’s harvest to the average harvest of the last three years. Each season was five weeks, including one week for youth hunters under the age of 18. The results concluded:

  • Harvest statewide was 10.7% higher.
  • Harvest during the week-long youth season was 17.7% higher.
  • Harvest in the mountains was 2.6% lower.
  • Harvest in the piedmont was 4.6% higher.
  • Harvest in the coastal region was 23% higher.
  • Harvest on game lands was 12.6% higher.

The increase in harvest in the coastal region was also reflected in the top five counties where turkeys were harvested: Duplin (780), Pender (583), Bladen (526), Halifax (519) and Columbus (513). No other counties had more than 500 turkeys harvested.