ELKINS, W.Va. - Spring turkey hunters harvested 10,369 gobblers this year, up 14 percent from 2015, according to Keith Krantz, wild turkey and upland game biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). The 2016 season, April 18 through May 14, started on the third Monday in April for the first time in recent history, a week earlier than usual.

Youth hunters checked in 380 gobblers during the one-day youth season held April 16. Preston County had the highest reported harvest of 16, followed by Raleigh and Upshur counties with 15 apiece, Wyoming County with 14 and Nicholas and Greenbrier counties with 13 each.

All six DNR districts showed an increase in overall harvest compared to 2015. District 1 in the northern part of the state recorded the most birds checked with 2,093, followed by District 4 (1,979), District 6 (1,926), District 5 (1,811), District 3 (1,622) and District 2 (938).

Mason County in District 5 led the state with 379 gobblers checked. Preston County (372), Nicholas (330), Wood (326) and Wyoming (320) counties rounded out the top five.

"The harvest stayed high throughout the entire four-week season," Krantz said. "Good weather during much of the season, coupled with an earlier starting date, likely affected the harvest in 2016. Now we're hoping we will have the proper brood-rearing conditions for high poult survival this year." Krantz said.

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