This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s spring-gobbler season.
Licensed junior hunters and mentored youths can participate in Pennsylvania’s annual youth spring turkey hunt on Saturday, April 21. The season opens for all hunters on April 28.
A statewide turkey population between 210,000 and 220,000 is forecast, said Mary Jo Casalena, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wild turkey biologist.
Last spring, 5,049 turkeys were taken with a second spring gobbler license; 20,529 hunters purchased second gobbler licenses.
The second spring gobbler license is only on sale prior to the start of the season. Once April 28 rolls around, it’s too late to purchase one.
All participants in the youth hunt must be accompanied by adults as required by law. A complete list of regulations applying to mentored youth and junior hunters can be found in the Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which may be purchased with a hunting license and is available online at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Hunting hours during the youth hunt end at noon. Junior hunters and mentored youths also may participate in the statewide spring gobbler season.
Hunting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and end at noon for the first two weeks of the statewide season (April 28 through May 12). Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. when hunting hours end at noon. This is to minimize disturbance of nesting hens.
From May 14 through May 31, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
During the spring gobbler season, hunters may use manually operated or semiautomatic shotguns limited to a three-shell capacity in the chamber and magazine combined. Muzzleloading shotguns, crossbows and long, recurve and compound bows also are permitted. For a complete list of regulations, consult the Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.
Only bearded birds may be harvested during the spring season, and hunting is permitted by calling only. The stalking of turkeys is unlawful and unsafe.
There is no requirement for hunters to wear fluorescent orange during the spring turkey season, though it is recommended that orange be worn while moving.
The $21.90 license ($41.90 for nonresidents) may be purchased online, but cannot be printed at home. If a hunter expects to need the license early in the season, purchasing it directly from an issuing agent might be better. The same goes for general hunting licenses. General hunting licenses purchased online also are sent by mail, and shipping charges apply.
Successful turkey hunters must immediately and properly tag the bird before moving the bird from the harvest site, and are required by law to report the harvest to the Game Commission.
For most hunters, harvests must be reported within 10 days. Mentored youths and mentored adult hunters must report harvests within five days.
There are three ways harvests can be reported. Hunters can visit www.pgc.pa.gov, click the blue “Report a Harvest” button along the right side of the home page, then fill out a form and submit. Alternately, hunters can fill out and mail in the tear-out harvest report cards that are inserted into the Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, or report the harvest by phone at 1-855-724-8681.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is sponsoring its second annual Turkey Harvest Photo Contest, and hunters submitting the photos of themselves with their 2018 Pennsylvania gobblers are eligible to win one of two personalized, engraved box calls.
Entries will be narrowed to a field of finalists in the adult hunter and youth hunter categories, with one winner in each category selected by voters on the Game Commission’s Facebook page.
Hunters should submit photos of their 2018 Pennsylvania harvests by email to email@example.com. Submissions should include the first and last name of anyone in the photo, the hunter’s hometown and the county the turkey was harvested.
The contest will run from youth season April 21 through Monday, June 4.