FARMINGTON, W.Va. — The 2018 spring gobbler season in West Virginia will feature a couple of very unique aspects as it opens April 16. Observers note it’s the first opening day in many years when the greenery in West Virginia’s woods will be extremely light. Due to late winter weather the first spring buds for trees aren’t even started in many part of the state.
Mike Peters, Game Bird Biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, noted the unusual weather pattern seems to have also delayed much gobbling activity in the state.
“Personally I haven’t heard any and I think this late winter thing has impacted the birds,” he explained. “I think it’s just a little early this week, and hopefully next week things will pick up.”
When things do pickup hunters will be pleased to realize an extremely high number of two year old gobblers in the woods. The birds which are most often attracted to a hunters calls are part of the flog hatched following the 2016 cicada hatch.
“Two years ago we had the eruption of the 17 year cicada, that really boosted production,” Peters explained. “That’s why this year is looking pretty good. Everything is lining up for a real good year.
This past year’s wild turkey reproduction was at the normal level, but compared to the previous year when the cicadas offered an unusually high level of nutrition, it appeared lower.
“Last year, things kind of settled down so it’s a little deceiving,” said Peters. “It was about average but if you compared it to the 2016 season it appeared it was way down, but it really wasn’t.”
Peters anticipated a strong harvest for 2018 provided the weather cooperated.
“It’s supposed to start warming up and hopefully that will allow things to start leafing out and birds will start getting excited,” he added.
The season opens Monday and runs for four weeks. The 2018 spring gobbler youth hunting day is this Saturday, April 16.
It should also be noted that although the legislature approved a measure which will allow for Sunday hunting on public lands, that law does not take effect until July 1. Therefore, for the spring gobbler season, Sunday hunting restrictions remain in place for public property.