FARMINGTON, W.Va. — The prospects for turkey hunters in West Virginia looks strong for the next four weeks. The statewide spring gobbler season opens Monday April 15 and will run for four weeks. A biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources notes there are plenty of birds on the landscape for 2019.
“I’ve been getting good reports from people I’m talking to. People are seeing birds all over the place and I’m optimistic,” said Mike Peters, Biologist in the DNR’s District I office at Farmington. “Weather wise and bird wise everything looks great. As long as the weather holds out I look for everybody to have a good season.”
The season opens with fewer leaves on the trees in the mountain state. The lack of leaf cover means gobbling activity will be detectable from a further distance in the early part of the season.
“When leaf out occurs, it becomes harder to hear the birds, to see the birds, and frankly I think also \to call them in,” Peters explained. “I think before leaf out is the best time to call them in.”
Gobbling activity has been underway for several weeks and will continue. As the leaves come onto the trees, the dynamic of hunting will change over the course of the four week season.
Peters said turkeys have come into the season in good shape, but he anticipated the harvest for the 2019 season shouldn’t be far off the 2018 figure.
“That’s always kind of subjective. Compared to last year I think the harvest will be lower, but if you look at the five or ten year average I think it will be about average,” he said. “We had an average mast year and we had a fairly mild winter, so there was good winter survival.”
Peters expected hunters in all counties would find gobbling activity, but expected the most productive hunting in the counties which normally rank high in the annual harvest figures.
“West Virginia has good turkey populations everywhere, but we have better concentrations in certain locations.” he explained. “People don’t normally think of the northern panhandle as a traditional turkey hunting spot, but they generally have the highest harvest of any area in the state.”
Peters added, your chances remain high even in the latter part of the season.
“Harvest rates show the first two weeks are the top weeks for harvest, but I would encourage people to still get out there in week three and four. People are still killing turkeys those weeks too,” he said.