Wild turkeys get Pennsylvania hunters excited, maybe more excited than they get about deer. Something about the sight of the big birds captivates hunters minds.
Turkeys are not really handsome birds. More than that they are sort of goofy looking. In fact they are not bright animals, yet hunting them is quite a challenge. Whatever they may lack in intelligence they more than make up for in wariness. Their eyesight is keen. Walking up on turkeys is not a high percentage method of hunting them. Usually you are not trying to defeat just one set of eyes. By fall two or three broods may have gotten together and you must avoid a couple dozen pairs of eyes.
Turkeys have taken away the majority of interest in other small game hunting. However, while spring gobbler hunting has become increasingly popular, the number of hunters participating in the fall turkey hunt has been declining. Since 2000, and every year since, the number of spring turkey hunters has exceeded the number of fall turkey hunters in Pennsylvania.
It is not all about fun though. The economics of turkey hunting are immense. The economic impact of wild turkey hunting in 2006 was $302,620,000 in Pennsylvania according to 'Turkey Hunting in 2006: An Analysis of Hunter Demographics, Trends, and Economic Impacts'. Pennsylvania is second only to Texas in this regard.
Nationally the trend in the number of wild turkey hunters from 1996 to 2006 is opposite the trend for all other hunters. During that period, the number of wild turkey hunters rose 13% while the number of all other hunters declined 19%. That is a huge gap.
Turkey hunting in Warren County varies tremendously from west to east based in Pennsylvania Game Commission statistics. Western Warren County is in Wildlife Management Unit 1B, the remainder is in WMU 2F. WMU 1B is rated as the best in Pennsylvania in both hunter success rates and turkey density, while WMU 2F is rated among the worst outside the heavily developed southeast corner in both of those categories.
The difference is based on habitat. WMU 1B is the gently rolling part of the northwest corner of Pennsylvania that was shaped by Ice Age glaciers. Soils are much richer than in WMU 2F. Habitat in WMU 1B when viewed from above has a patchwork appearance consisting of blocks of pasture, cultivated fields, reverting farmland, wetlands, single dwellings and groups of dwellings. With a lot of open land, finding turkeys is relatively easy. In WMU 2F the habitat is mostly unbroken forest which makes finding turkeys much more difficult.
The PGC web site contains reports on hunting prospects from Wildlife Conservation Officers. Three of the four WCO's who report on Warren County rate turkey prospects this year as good, the other as excellent.
Mast crops will have a great deal to do with finding turkeys during the fall season. Reports from around the state tell of a very good crop of acorns. In my own travels around our area I have not found this to be the case. That may be poor for the turkeys, but it is an advantage for turkey hunters. When acorns are spotty, those areas that have acorns will also have concentrations of turkeys.
Cherry mast was very abundant earlier.
Because of the specific division between WMU 2F and WMU 1B, turkey hunting regulations are a bit complicated in Warren County.
In WMU 1B the fall turkey season is November 13 to November 19 and November 25 through November 27. Only shotguns, bows and arrows, and crossbows may be used.
In WMU 2F the fall turkey season is November 6 to November 19 and November 25 to November 27. In addition to bows and arrows, crossbows, and shotguns, rifles may be used.
Be sure to carefully read all regulations in your regulations digest.
Those of you who take your rifle hunting seriously probably have been shooting your bear and deer rifle, or rifles, all through summer and fall. Not all hunters understand that rifles must be sighted-in before hunting season begins. From experiences working at a sporting goods store I was surprised to learn that some hunters do not realize their rifles ever have to be sighted-in, or that bore-sighting alone is not sufficient.
Kalbfus Rod and Gun Club will have sight-in days Nov. 14, 21, 26, 27 and 28. Brokenstraw Fish and Game Club will have sight-in day on Nov. 26, 27, and 28.