A month-long spring turkey season in Delaware yielded a harvest of 564 birds – just 7 lower than last year’s harvest. DNREC officials say Toms accounted for 439 of this year’s harvest – about 78%. The most birds were harvested in the first 2 weeks of the season. If you’re already looking forward to the 2020 wild turkey season – it will begin on April 11 and run through May 9th. The turkey lottery application to hunt on DNREC public wildlife areas is in the 2019/2020 hunting guide.
Only turkeys with beards – almost always males – can be harvested in Delaware. Highlights of the 2019 season included the harvest of 29 “non-typical” turkeys, consisting of gobblers with more than one beard. Of these birds, 23 had two beards, five had three beards, and one had four beards. The longest-bearded bird had a 14-inch beard. The longest spurs on a harvested bird were 1-5/8” on the right leg and 1-13/16” on the left leg. The heaviest bird harvested weighed 26 lbs., 2 oz., and was taken in southwest Kent County.
Turkeys were harvested in 17 of 18 wildlife management zones. A hot spot for harvest occurred in six zones stretching from zones 4, 6, 7, and 8 in western Kent County through zones 11 and 12 between Seaford and Lewes in Sussex County, accounting for just over half of the total statewide harvest. Zone 1A, which is in New Castle County north of I-95/295, was the only zone where no birds were harvested.
This year, 86 percent of the turkeys were harvested on privately-owned lands. Hunters also were successful on public lands where 81 birds were bagged, with turkeys being harvested from 20 different public lands statewide.
For more information on hunting, click 2019-2020 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide and Wildlife Area Hunting Maps. Hard copies of the guide and hunting maps are also available at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office.