ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The numbers from Virginia’s 2021 spring turkey hunting season are in, and they are stellar.  The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR) reported 20,541 birds were harvested this spring.  That’s the second-highest number on record compared to 20,580 turkeys taken during the 2015 spring season.

Bedford County took the top spot in the state for turkey harvest, while Franklin County came in third and Halifax County was tenth. All three counties have prime turkey habitat and high populations.

Weather also played a role in the near-record harvest. Fair weather throughout the season made it easier to hunt.  Favorable weather in 2019 also meant good turkey production, leading to a plentiful number of two-year-old birds for harvest.

Dallas Morris with a beautiful turkey

Brood stocks this spring are expected to be good because of mild conditions.  The VDWR says early reports are encouraging and that many hens were seen with young poults (juvenile turkeys).

“Adult gobblers, those with a beard at least 7 inches in length made up 91 percent of the total harvest,” said the VDWR. “Juvenile gobblers known as “jakes” accounted for 8.7 percent of the harvest.”

The VDWR reports bearded hens made up just 0.3 percent of the annual harvest. That number is similar to what has been recorded in previous years.

While the number of turkeys taken on public lands was up this spring, the harvest on private lands still outpaced the public land harvest by nearly 20 to one.

Historical Virginia spring turkey harvest/Courtesy VDWR

The fall turkey archery season opens Oct. 3.  The firearms season opens Oct. 17.