ANNAPOLIS — Maryland hunters harvested 4,208 wild turkeys during the spring 2022 regular and junior turkey seasons, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported. This year’s harvest was 8% higher than the 2021 harvest and just 2% below the record harvest of 4,303 set in 2020.
Wicomico County showed favorable harvest numbers compared to last year with 193 turkeys bagged compared to 181 the prior year for a 6.6% increase.
Worcester County dipped less than 1% with 293 birds taken compared to 295 in 2021.
However other area counties had larger declines, especially Dorchester County, with a 13.7% decrease from one year to the next. Its harvest was 170 this past season compared to 197 in 2021.
Somerset was down by 2.2% with 176 turkeys harvested compared to 180 last year — although the 2022 total was 20 more birds than the four-year average of 156 turkeys for the 2018-2021 seasons.
“Although certain areas have experienced declines in turkey populations, some regions of the state now hold record-high numbers of turkeys,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “The growth of turkey populations in areas such as the Baltimore-Washington corridor provides hunters with exciting new opportunities to get afield where they might not have had success in the past.”
The percentage of juvenile turkeys or “jakes” reported in the harvest was 24%, the highest level since 2011. The increase can be attributed to the Brood X cicada emergence in the summer of 2021 that provided abundant food for newly-hatched turkeys and increased survival of the young birds.
Turkey populations in the central region of the state especially benefited from last summer’s high reproduction. Five counties in the region posted record harvests: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s. But counties further west lead the state in total turkey harvest, with Garrett County reporting 436 turkeys, followed by Washington County with 400 and Frederick County with 343.
Youth hunters kicked off the spring turkey season statewide on April 16 with the Junior Turkey Hunt. An additional junior hunting opportunity occurred on April 17 in select counties. In total, junior hunters harvested 286 wild turkeys, accounting for about 7% of the total spring harvest.