Turkey Hunting in Virginia

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  • B
  • 170,000-190,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 277,281

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Virginia has a great turkey hunting tradition, spring and fall. Why? Public land. That’s the real story when it comes to Virginia. Opportunity.

According to the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, breeding activity begins in late March and early April. Egg laying starts around the middle of April. Peak nest incubation is normally the first week of May (May 5).

Hatching takes place 28 days later, often during the first week of June. Peak gobbling in Virginia normally occurs in early May based on field surveys. 

Peak gobbling typically coincides with peak nest incubation. Gobbling rates decline as the spring season progresses (tagged birds and hunting pressure are cited factors). 

The two recent spring seasons of the pandemic have seen high harvest numbers, due in part to increase participation: some 20,525 birds in 2020, and 20,541 last spring.

Two things that spring immediately to mind regarding my own Old Dominion hunts are plenty of gobbling turkeys to chase, and abundant morel mushrooms for picking when we weren't after birds. We filled our hats to the brim with the latter, and fried them in butter that evening. 

Yearning for the East Coast’s version of wide-open Western spaces? The George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in central Virginia covers more than 1.7 million acres of hunting opportunity, not only for spring gobblers, but for small game, fall turkeys, whitetails and black bear as well.

Located near the town of Saltville, the Clinch Mountain WMA offers good turkey hunting, too.

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in Virginia (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

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