Happy hunting

Wild turkeys explore a field during a March snowfall on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The turkey hunting season is scheduled to begin in April.

Although wild turkeys are fairly common throughout North Carolina, it would be rare to encounter the species as recently as the 1980s. Habitat destruction, lack of prescribed fire, and poorly managed hunting had caused drastic population declines, leading to extirpation of the species from many places in the United States.

The National Wild Turkey Federation and the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC) worked together to restore wild turkeys to the state, with efforts made as far back as 1950. MCB Camp Lejeune was an integral part of this restoration effort; providing the NCWRC with many of the initial turkeys that were used to establish populations in other parts of the state.

Records dating back to 1968 indicate that turkeys from Camp Lejeune were trapped and relocated to National Forest land (Pisgah, Uwharrie, and Croatan) and Game Lands throughout the state.

North Carolina’s wild turkey population has increased from an estimated 2,000 birds in 1970 to an estimated 265,000 birds in 2015.

The wild turkey remains a favorite game animal for recreational hunters. Although commercial and unregulated hunting were problems in the past, hunters were the main group that helped restore turkey populations by funding restocking and relocating programs and contributing to groups that conserve habitat.

MCB Camp Lejeune has been able to maintain a healthy population of wild turkeys through responsible habitat management, regulated hunting practices, and population monitoring.

The 5 year average for annual turkey harvest is 64 birds and, in 2018, the total harvest was 65 birds (18% of all turkeys harvested in Onslow County).

Hunters may harvest up to two turkeys (male or bearded only) during the entire season, per State regulations. The regular hunting season for wild turkeys runs from April 13-May 11, 2019. Youth hunters (less than 18 years old) have the opportunity to bag one turkey during the special Youth Hunting Season, which runs from April 6-12, 2019.

Hunters are reminded of the following Camp Lejeune

regulations and hunting safety tips:

• A N.C. State Hunting License (including big game tags) and a Camp Lejeune Base Hunting Permit are required to hunt turkeys on the installation.

• The use of dogs, live decoys and electronic calls is prohibited.

• Only shotguns and archery equipment are authorized for spring turkey.

• It is unlawful to harvest turkeys from an area in which bait has been placed. (An area is considered baited until 10 days after the bait has been consumed or otherwise removed.)

• Hunters are not permitted in any hunting area prior to or later than 1 1/2 hours before/after legal shooting time.

• Signing in and out of the hunting area is required, and all turkey harvest information must be recorded on your harvest card and in EFAWCTS.

• Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it when preparing to shoot.

• Always keep the firearm muzzle

pointed in a safe direction.

For questions about hunting regulations or to obtain a permit, contact

Camp Lejeune Conservation Law Enforcement Office I 451-5226

Office hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays.