Wildlife Commission releases 2022 wild turkey harvest totals

Results from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s 2022 Wild Turkey Harvest Summary report shows that hunters statewide recorded 20,576 birds harvested statewide in 2022, including 1,777 birds that were taken during youth season. The total falls short of the past two years’ record-breaking totals, however it remains strong compared to totals prior to 2020.

“COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders drove increased hunting pressure on the North Carolina landscape in 2020 and 2021, especially during turkey season. Although this year’s harvest was a decrease, we continue to see high numbers of wild turkeys and steady reproductive numbers across the state,” stated Hannah Plumpton, upland game bird biologist for the Wildlife Commission.

To put this year’s wild turkey harvest in perspective, Plumpton 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 4% lower.
  • Harvest during the week-long youth season decreased by 17%.
  • Harvest in the coastal region increased by 6%.
  • Harvest in the mountains decreased by 13%.
  • Harvest in the piedmont decreased by 10%.
  • Harvest on game lands decreased by 9%.

The increase in harvest in the coastal region was also reflected in the top five counties where turkeys were harvested: Duplin (748), Bladen (569), Pender (565), Columbus (541) and Brunswick (518). No other counties had more than 500 turkeys harvested.

More information about this year’s wild turkey harvest by county, game land, and youth hunt can be viewed at the agency’s website.

The Wildlife Commission posts annual harvest summaries on its website, for all game species, as well as live harvest reports, which are available anytime throughout the hunting season. 

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