Skip to Main Content

Virginia 2023–2024 Fall Wild Turkey Harvest Summary

A total of 1,443 wild turkeys were harvested in Virginia during the 2023–2024 fall turkey hunting season, an 11% decrease over the 2022–2023 harvest of 1,621.

While Virginia’s turkey population appears to remain robust, fall turkey harvests have been declining for over two decades. A recent DWR survey of turkey hunters indicated that many turkey hunters are choosing to save their turkey tags for the more popular spring turkey season, choosing to pursue other game during the fall.

Reproductive success is another variable that can alter fall hunting success. Inclement weather in May and June can lead to nest losses or death of the young turkey poults. In 2023, the productivity estimate (1.8 poults/hen) was below the long-term average (2.6 poults/hen) on a statewide basis for the second year in a row, marking one of the lowest recruitment index measures over the last 15 years. Since juvenile birds account for 40-60% of the fall harvest, reproductive success greatly influences turkey population size and subsequently fall harvest.

As in the last several years, the archery harvest remained relatively high, making up approximately 22% of the overall harvest. Thanksgiving Day and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving continue to be popular fall turkey hunting days. This year a total of 383 birds were harvested during that two-day timeframe, accounting for nearly 27% of the total fall harvest. Thanksgiving Day accounted for the single highest day of harvest with 232 birds, or 17% of the total fall harvest.

Declines in this year’s harvest were most apparent east of the Blue Ridge with a decrease of 17% as opposed to a 4% decrease west of the Blue Ridge. The greatest declines were noted in the Tidewater (27%) and Northern Piedmont (22%) regions. The harvests in the Southwest Mountains and Southern Piedmont were similar to last year’s.

The decline in fall turkey hunting participation has been an ongoing issue for Virginia and many other eastern states. One of the goals of the DWR Wild Turkey Management Plan, which is under revision, is to reverse the general decline in fall turkey hunting interest. The October youth and apprentice fall turkey hunting weekend and the late January season were designed to encourage interest in fall turkey hunting. Unfortunately, it appears the declining trend is continuing despite these efforts. While fall turkey participation may be lagging, the excitement of those who do participate is not. For additional details on wild turkey management in Virginia, please visit our wild turkey web page.

County-by-County Fall Turkey Harvest Data (2023–2024)

Fall Turkey Harvest Data by County: Five-Year Trends

Virginia Fall Wild Turkey Harvest Data

Season/Method Number Harvested % Total Harvest
Total Harvest 1,443 100
Type of Turkey
Without Beard 678 47
Beard <7” 197 13.7
Beard >7” 568 39.4
    East of Blue Ridge 751 52
    West of Blue Ridge 692 48
Land Type
Private 1,341 93
Federal 81 5.6
State 21 1.5
Time Frame
Early (Archery) 306 21.2
Youth/Apprentice 10 0.7
     October (first 2 weeks) 195 13.5
Wed. & Thanksgiving 383 26.5
December 423 29.3
January 102 7.1
Rifle 595 41.2
Shotgun 481 33.3
Muzzleloader 52 3.6
Bow 107 7.4
Crossbow 206 14.3
Pistol 2 0.1
1 (Tidewater) 223 15.5
2 (South Piedmont) 336 23.3
3 (SW Mtn) 484 33.5
4 (NW Mtn) 208 14.4
5 (North Piedmont) 192 13.3
A graph showing Virginia's fall turkey harvest from 1962 until 2023