Archived Outdoors

Turkey season in 2023 brings record harvest

A turkey hunter poses after a successful hunt. Beau Leyse photo A turkey hunter poses after a successful hunt. Beau Leyse photo

North Carolina’s five-week wild turkey season had its highest ever recorded harvest of 24,089 birds, surpassing the previous record of 23,341 set in 2020.

This marks a departure from several other Southeastern states, where turkey harvest peaked several years ago and is now declining.

Harvest increased in all regions of the state but jumped the most on the coast. Increases in the southeastern part of the state drove the overall increase — while other regions also saw heightened harvests, trends in some counties there have been stable or declining. The increased harvest in the 2023 spring turkey season likely reflects the improved wild turkey reproduction that was observed in 2021.

Biologists typically compared a given year’s harvest to the average of the previous three years. Using this metric, the 2023 statewide harvest increased 9.5%. The mountains increased 5%, the piedmont 6% and the coast 14%. Harvest during the weeklong youth season increased 11%, with 2,478 birds reported. The counties with the highest harvest per square mile were Franklin, Duplin, Northampton, Caswell and Vance.

Commission biologists continue to monitor wild turkey harvest and reproduction across the state and have initiated several special research projects in recent years. One project investigated gobbling chronology across the state, providing a detailed picture of when gobbling peaks in each region.

Currently, the Commission is involved in an ongoing wild turkey ecology research project in cooperation with North Carolina State University, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Louisiana State University. This project will be completed this year and will provide foundational information about turkey nesting, survival, predation, hunter harvest and many other critical pieces of information. The information will help the Commission make the best decisions in conserving and managing wild turkey populations and habitat.

For more information on turkey harvest, click on the “Harvest Reports” tab at

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