RALEIGH, N.C. (March 21, 2023) – Wild turkey hunting season opens in North Carolina on April 1. The youth season is April 1 – 7, and the statewide season is April 8 – May 6. Hunters are limited to two turkeys for the season, only one of which may be taken during the youth season.
Chris Kreh, assistant chief of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Wildlife Management Division, said that in the 2022 wild turkey season hunters statewide recorded 20,576 birds harvested, including 1,777 birds that were taken during youth season. The total falls short of the past two years’ record-breaking totals, however it remains strong compared to totals prior to 2020. Kreh confirmed that North Carolina’s wild turkey population remains robust despite the increase in hunting pressure and harvest over the past few years.
“Our agency has safeguards in place to ensure that overharvest does not occur,” Kreh said. “Five weeks of hunting is conservative compared to most states, and hunters must comply with a two-bird limit and may only take male or bearded birds.”
Kreh added that the timing of the state’s harvest season is strategic.
“The season dates offer considerable opportunity for breeding before males are harvested. Hens are able to nest and raise poults as they always do.”
The youth season is open to anyone under the age of 18, and hunters aged 16 and 17 must have hunting licenses. Youth under 16 are exempt from license requirements provided they are accompanied by a licensed adult who is at least 18 years old. Youth who have licenses or a hunter education card may hunt without adult supervision. All hunters must report their turkey harvest on a Big Game Harvest Report Card.
Hunting licenses can be purchased on the agency’s website, and hunter education courses are available across the state and online.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity such as poaching or baiting may be eligible to receive a reward (up to $1,000) by reporting information that leads to a conviction to the Turn-In-Poachers program. For information on eligible violations and to learn how to submit a tip, visit ncwildlife.org/WildTip.
For information about turkey hunting, including hunter safety and where to hunt, visit ncwildlife.org.