West Virginians love their turkey hunting, and there’s a significant tradition for it here, spring and fall.
That said, biologists and veteran hunters alike will tell you that West Virginia’s turkey population is less than it was a little over a decade ago. Fact is, as of our most recent Turkey Hunting Nation update, the number flattened from an estimated 113,200 birds (2020) to 101,340 (2022 update).
Kill data is also down just a bit from the first pandemic season when hunter numbers increased nationwide.
According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, during the spring of 2021, hunters took 10,134 turkeys (down from 11,320 in spring 2020). Last fall, West Virginia harvested an additional 694 birds.
This fall kill is 33.1% fewer birds compared to 2020. The low take, management officials say, may be in part due to mast conditions (as fall turkeys don’t hold in one spot, but travel widely with so much food around). Statewide mast conditions were 61% above 2020 and 8% above the long-term average, with soft mast species flourishing.
There’s food out there for the birds. And all counties in the state have turkeys.
And poult production is on the upswing, with some reserved caution. As noted in the 2021 West Virginia Mast Survey and Hunter Outlook, wild turkey brood observations were above what was reported in 2020, the highest in the past five years.
West Virginia has good public land opportunities as well, with 500,000 state-owned acres and another million under U.S. Forest Service supervision.