Public Land Pennsylvania Turkey Hunting for Spring Gobbler Season
Besides the release from winter’s cold grip, spring brings with it two good things. The first is the opening day of trout season and the other is spring turkey season in Pennsylvania. The start of spring gobbler season in the state means excitement is starting to build. Public lands offer plenty of local turkey hunting opportunities in the southeastern region that you might want to take notice of!
Junior hunters get the first crack at spring gobblers. Their one-day opportunity is April 21, 2018, where properly licensed mentored youth hunters can take to the woods in Pennsylvania for a chance at a long beard. On April 28, 2018, the full statewide Pennsylvania spring turkey hunting season starts. One bearded bird can be taken and an additional gobbler can be harvested with the purchase of an additional spring turkey tag prior to the start of the season. Be sure to familiarize yourself with all the PA turkey hunting regulations by visiting the PA Game Commission website as part of your preparation for spring turkey hunting.
Securing a Local Gobbler on Public Land
Local turkey hunting has many advantages. Several of them include being able to snooze a few minutes longer in your own bed and having more time to scout areas since you are close to home. However, even the best places to hunt turkey in Pennsylvania, including those in your backyard, still require you to put in the time to find and pattern birds.
You should certainly study all the turkey hunting tips and tricks available, but the real key to bagging a local gobbler on public land is scouting. Even though these local areas are “home” for many turkey hunters, you still have to put in the work before the season.
Get into the field well before the season and find the birds. As soon as the winter weather starts to break in late March, you should be planning scouting trips. The objective of these trips is to find food sources and water sources, as well as to study areas where turkeys will be roosting and strutting. Scout from afar. The last thing you want to do is pressure birds more than they already are on public turkey hunting lands while scouting. It is important not to disturb the local flock’s routine in any way. Observe from a distance and identify areas where birds should be when the season starts. Keep the turkey hunting gear in the truck during scouting trips. The less you train gobblers on public land to a turkey call the less educated and reluctant they will be to come in when the season rolls around.
Public Land Local Turkey Hunting Opportunities in Southeastern Pennsylvania
There are two prime Pennsylvania turkey hunting areas in the southeast region of the state, and more specifically in wildlife management 5B, where you can bag a spring gobbler.
State Game Lands 145
At a little more than 2,800 acres, State Game Lands 145 sits to the southwest of Mt. Gretna in Lebanon County. This mostly forested public tract has mature oak forests, mixed hardwoods and multiple herbaceous openings along with several young forested patches from recent timber harvests. All ideal locations to ambush a pressured bird while spring turkey hunting.
There are two spots to check out on this public tract. The first is gate 145-01, which is located off of Pinch Road. This access spot leads to a large wildlife opening where turkeys will often come to later in the morning to dust and feed. Scout travel areas birds use to reach the opening and set up for an ambush. The other spot to check out on this Game Lands is the access trail at gate 145-50 off of State Route 241, south of the town of Colebrook. From here, you can reach a hardwood knob where gobblers will strut after leaving their roost from the lower bottomlands.
State Game Lands 156
If you are considering where to hunt turkey in PA in the southeastern part of the state, State Game Lands 156 has to be on your list. Just down the road from Game Lands 145, State Game Lands 156 offers a completely different local turkey hunting experience. At approximately 5,200 acres, this larger public land tract sits on either side of State Route 322 in Lebanon and Lancaster Counties. The land that comprises this area is mostly mountainous oak forests with few wildlife openings. If you are used to hunting big woods gobblers, this public turkey hunting tract is for you.
On Game Lands 156, the go-to place here is the access area at gate 156-25, which is accessed from Dead End Road off of Speedwell Forge Road from State Route 322. The gated trail will get you access to a large hollow with Kettle Run flowing through it. The hollow leads to a large oak flat. Gobblers will often roost on the southern exposure of this hollow and move to the oak flat throughout the morning in search of food. Set up well before light to secure your spot in case of pressure from other hunters. In this spot, the trick is to wait it out. Patience pays as you will more than likely run into other hunters. However, if you can stick it out till noon, a good gobbler can be had.
In conclusion, there are some really good Pennsylvania turkey hunting opportunities right here in southeastern part of the state. To be successful, utilize your local outdoor pro staff and public mapping centers to find the best places to hunt turkey in Pennsylvania this spring.