Turkey Hunting in North Carolina

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  • B
  • 270,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 322,044

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

North Carolina turkey number estimates sit at 270,000 birds, up just slightly from our last update. 

In 2020, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission documented a record high turkey kill during the five-week hunting season. The statewide take increased by 28% and the youth harvest increased by 110% compared to the average of the three previous years.

The increase, says the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, is likely due to North Carolinians spending more time outdoors due to COVID-19. 

That said, the 2020 pandemic season saw 23,431 birds taken, while last year it dropped just a bit to 21,974 turkeys.

However, as poult production goes, brood surveys over the last several years haven't been robust.

From swamps and coastal lowlands to farm country, rolling hills and full-scale Appalachian ridges and mountains, North Carolina has a range of diverse turkey habitat.

Part of the reason for a solid B grade is the state’s extensive network of Game Lands – more than 2 million acres in all – open to public hunting.

The Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan National Forests are included in this list, as is the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge.

Traditionally, the Tar Heel State’s top turkey country includes the northern Piedmont and the foothills, but all counties have at least some birds.

Three counties (Northampton, Halifax and Rockingham) typically account for about 10% of North Carolina’s annual turkey kill.

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in North Carolina (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

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