Regional Reports-South

George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

Although Virginia restructured its fall turkey season in 1995 to reduce the harvest of hens, things aren't where they should be. Gary Norman, forest game bird biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, places the blame squarely on the shoulders of Mother Nature. "We had cold, wet springs in 1997 and 1998. Those two years tied record lows in terms of production," says Norman. "If it wasn't for that, I think we would have about 200,000 turkeys in Virginia." Still, wild turkey numbers are at their highest levels on record, 150,000 strong, and last spring's harvest was a record as well. Hunters seeking public land should look to the western third of the state. The George Washington and Jefferson National Forest offers 1.6 million acres of hardwood and pine-covered mountains. Norman says Allegheny and Bath counties and the region around the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area are excellent. Contact: George Washington and Jefferson National Forest (888-265-0019); Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (540-248-9360).