Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season kicks off Saturday, Oct. 28 in 19 of Pennsylvania’s 22 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs.) The fall season is closed in WMUs 5A, 5C and 5D. For the remaining WMUs, the season lengths are as follows: WMUs 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E – Oct. 28-Nov. 4; WMU 2B – Oct. 28-Nov. 17 and Nov. 22-24; WMUs 2A, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C – Oct. 28-Nov. 11; WMU 2C, 2D & 2E – Oct. 28-Nov. 11 and Nov. 22-24; and WMU 5B – Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Hunters are advised that the three-day Thanksgiving season again will run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
As a reminder, no single-projectile firearms may be used in the fall turkey seasons. Hunters may use shotguns and archery gear only.
While fall turkey hunters no longer are required to wear fluorescent orange, the Game Commission highly recommends the use of orange, especially while moving.
Everyone who purchases a hunting license receives one fall turkey tag, as well as one spring tag. During the fall season any turkey can be harvested, and female turkeys make up over 50% of the fall harvest. When turkey populations are below goal in a WMU, the fall season structure is reduced to allow more female turkeys to survive to nesting. In 2021, season length in 15 WMUs was shortened, or closed, and the use of centerfire or rimfire rifles was eliminated. The 2022 statewide fall harvest (7,600 turkeys) was 12% greater than 2021 (6,800 turkeys). Statewide fall hunter participation (70,500 hunters) was 14% less in 2022 than in 2021 (81,500 hunters). Fall hunter success of 10.8% was 29% greater than the 8.4% in 2021.
Since 2012 there have been one or fewer turkey-hunting related shooting incidents each year, and 2022 marked the sixth year with no incidents. The other years with no incidents were 2012, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2021.
Turkey reproduction in 2023, as measured by the number of poults observed per all hens observed, was lower than in 2021 and 2022. But it was greater this year than in 2019 and 2020 across many WMUs.
“Although fall flock sizes may be smaller this year, there may be more flocks due to the above-average reproduction the previous two years” said Game Commission wild turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena. “And, expect to find flocks concentrated on available food sources, such as areas with acorn production or agricultural areas.”
Casalena also encourages hunters to cover a lot of ground in areas where acorn or beechnut production is abundant because flocks are not constrained by limited food. Where food is abundant, determining turkey movement patterns around that food will improve hunting success.
Successful fall turkey hunters must tag their birds according to instructions provided on the printed harvest tags supplied with their licenses, then report harvests.
Mentored hunters under age 7 may receive, by transfer, a fall turkey tag supplied by their mentor.
The turkey must be tagged immediately after harvest and before the turkey is moved, and the tag must be securely attached to a leg until the bird is prepared for consumption or mounting.
Within 10 days of harvest, turkey hunters must report harvests to the Game Commission, either by going online to the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov, calling toll-free or mailing in a prepaid post card.
Hunters reporting their turkey harvests over the telephone can call 1-800-838-4431 and follow the prompts. Hunters will need to have their license and their copy of the harvest tag in front of them when they make the call. Hunters should record the supplied confirmation number for the turkey reported.
All hunters reporting harvests are asked to identify the WMU, county and township where the bird was taken as well as other information.
Additionally, hunters may harvest a turkey that has been leg-banded or has a transmitter for research purposes, and if so, they should follow the instructions on the band or the transmitter. Last winter the Game Commission leg-banded more than 900 turkeys, including placing backpack style transmitters on more than 260, in a continuing effort to track turkey populations.