By Kyle Vaughan
In the 1920s, North Carolina established a hunting season for turkey from mid-November through mid-February. It was an either-sex season for a few decades, excluding harvests in various counties throughout the state. This hunting season was established as a restoration effort to increase the wild turkey population through bag limits after early settlers in the US had decimated their population and habitat with unregulated market-hunting.
After decades of an established season and restoration efforts, very little positive impact was noticed and the turkey population continued to decline through the 1960s. The NC Wildlife Commission started releasing wild turkeys in 1953 to restoration sites across the state, resulting in more than 6,000 released wild turkeys. Restoration efforts were completed in 2005 with an estimated population of 150,000 birds and a hunting season in all 100 counties of North Carolina.
As of 2021, after the wild turkey summer observation survey in 2020, the estimated wild turkey population in our state is 270,000. This is a tremendous success when compared to the estimated wild turkey population of 2,000 in 1970. We at DB bar D Outfitters applaud and are grateful to the NC Wildlife Commission for their diligent efforts to protect and conserve North Carolina’s wildlife resources and their habitats. The Commission’s wild turkey restoration efforts of 50 years allow North Carolina Big Game license holders to enjoy the upcoming 2021 wild turkey season, consisting of two bearded turkey tags. The season is broken down into two parts: Youth-Only Season, April 3–9, and Regular Season, April 10 through May 8.
We encourage you to get out this spring to enjoy a turkey hunt with hopes that you harvest a gobbler. There is nothing more exciting than hearing a gobbler fire off on the roost first thing in the morning and make its way toward your calls and decoys. Turkey hunting is active, making long spring days seem short as you chase turkey through the mountains of WNC.
DB bar D Outfitters offers full-day and half-day guided turkey hunts on their Mills River farm and in Pisgah National Forest. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828.767.9568.