Page 141 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
P. 141

                 LLet’s talk turkey. Prior to European settlement, the North American
Most associate North America’s largest game bird with Thanksgiving—and therein lies the problem: There aren’t enough birds in the Brandywine Valley and southern Chester County for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to sanction fall hunting. This year’s season runs April 27 to May 31, which is why cage-raised domestic birds typically end up on holiday tables in this area.
Tom Shaw lives near West Grove in rural southern Chester County. “I’ve lived here my whole life, but I can’t hunt here,” he laments.
So every fall, Shaw heads to Turkey Trot
Acres Hunting Lodge in Candor, N.Y., west of Binghamton. “Even in the spring, I can’t say I’ve ever heard a gobbler [male] around here, so it’s smart of the state not to have a fall season,” he says.
wild turkey was abundant. But by the early 1900s, unregulated hunting and habitat loss due to wide- spread logging and farming reduced populations to near extinction in some areas. Early hunters’ livelihoods depended on them—and as a flock species, they’re easy targets.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s
Mary Jo Casalena is the biologist responsible for managing and researching the state’s wild turkey and its restoration. She estimates that there were as few as 3,000 of them statewide until hunting organiza- tions pushed for conservation legislation. Initial efforts were based on the ill-informed release of pen- reared turkeys. More successful were techniques that allowed experts to trap and transfer wild
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