The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is opening wild turkey youth hunting season April 1 to 7, followed by the statewide season April 8 to May 6, officials announced Tuesday.
Hunters are limited to two turkeys for the season. Only one may be taken during the youth season.
Hunting licenses can be purchased on the agency’s website, and hunter education courses are available across the state and online. All hunters must report their turkey harvest on a Big Game Harvest Report Card.
In the 2022 wild turkey season hunters statewide recorded 20,576 birds harvested, including 1,777 birds that were taken during youth season, according to Chris Kreh, assistant chief of the commission’s wildlife management division.
Though the total falls short of the past two years’ record-breaking totals, it remains strong compared to totals prior to 2020. North Carolina’s wild turkey population remains robust despite the increase in hunting pressure and harvest over the past few years, Kreh continued.
“Our agency has safeguards in place to ensure that overharvest does not occur,” Kreh said. “Five weeks of hunting is conservative compared to most states, and hunters must comply with a two-bird limit and may only take male or bearded birds.”
Timing of the state’s harvest season is strategic, Kreh explained.
“The season dates offer considerable opportunity for breeding before males are harvested. Hens are able to nest and raise poults as they always do.”
The youth season is open to anyone under the age of 18, and hunters aged 16-17 must have hunting licenses. Youth younger than 16 are exempt from license requirements, provided they are accompanied by a licensed adult who is at least 18 years old. Youth who have licenses or a hunter education card may hunt without adult supervision.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity such as poaching or baiting may be eligible to receive a reward of up to $1,000 by reporting information that leads to a conviction to the Turn-In-Poachers program. For information on eligible violations and to learn how to submit a tip, visit ncwildlife.org/WildTip.
For information about turkey hunting, including hunter safety and where to hunt, visit ncwildlife.org.