Big Woods Turkey Hunting in the PA Wilds
There isn’t much else on my mind this time of year other than cool, crisp, spring mornings with the sun rising over the opposing mountainside with the sounds of gobbles echoing down the valley. Turkeys live in some amazing places throughout the country, but it’s tough to beat the experience of hunting them in the big woods and steep mountainous terrain that the Pennsylvania Wilds has to offer. We have over two million acres of public lands available to roam and create whatever type of adventure that you can dream of. Turkey hunting in big timber can be extremely difficult at times, but very rewarding to say the least.
Spring is a great time to introduce kids and new hunters to the outdoors, as the temperatures are usually milder than the fall, and it tends to give them more excitement with the vocalization of these birds.
Define the Experience
With so much land and a variety of terrain available to hunt, the opportunities are endless for outdoor people of all ages and experience levels. By using a topographic map or an online mapping software such as OnX Hunt, you can see how steep the terrain is, what access roads are available, and what the forest looks like before ever stepping foot on the ground. When looking at the PA Wilds region, the western part into the Allegheny National Forest is typically less steep (though not always) with easier access, and you generally get into some really remote country with tougher hiking into the north central part of the state.
What I love about turkey hunting in the Spring is that you can find success going out for an hour before work on a weekday, or you can go on a backpack turkey hunt for the weekend in a remote area of the state. The opportunities are truly endless!
For more information on camping regulations within the state, refer to one of my previous articles here: https://pawilds.com/cold-weather-camping/.
Where to Find Turkeys
In terms of where you can hunt, turkey hunting is no different than deer hunting.
Turkeys tend to be vocal during the spring gobbler season which runs from April 27-May 31, 2019 in Pennsylvania, with a youth hunt on April 20th. This makes finding them a little easier than deer sometimes, but don’t confuse that statement with saying they’re easier to hunt!
There are many ways to hunt these birds, but one good way to have an opportunity at a gobbler first thing in the morning is to find out where they roost — in other words, where they are perching on a branch for the night to sleep. It can take a lot of effort at times to find roost locations in large forests, but it can definitely be done! Finding excessive droppings under trees and wing feathers on the ground can give you a good idea of a roost site. Roost locations can vary from ridgelines, over streams, to open timber and pine thickets.
I am not a professional turkey hunter by any means, but if you have limited time to scout, look at a map and find a point you can hike to that overlooks a valley with a few opposing ridges and points. Go there in the evenings and mornings leading up to the season and just listen. They will be starting to gobble and give away their locations.
You can use other methods such as using an owl hooter and crow call to get them to gobble, but depending on where you’re hunting, the turkeys may be educated enough to know that it’s a hunter making those noises and stay quiet. If you don’t find them right away in the morning, your hunt isn’t over. Hike the ridges, call and listen. These turkeys can travel day to day in the Appalachian Mountains so it may require some boots on the ground.
For more information about hunting on public lands, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission website here.
Hunt Turkeys this Spring
Whether it’s by yourself, with a child or a friend, get in the woods this spring and enjoy the land that we are all lucky enough to be part owners of. Most importantly, be safe and always be sure of your target. Good luck in the turkey woods this spring!
Pennsylvania Turkey Hunting Resources:
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