6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

Spring Gobbler Season Looks Positive


The mast production of 2010 will continue paying dividends into the spring of 2011.    West Virginia sportsmen will be working over the next four weeks to lure in a gobbler and DNR Chief Curtis Taylor, who keeps an especially close eye on the wild turkey management, believes it could be the best season in several years.

"Last year we had a terrific mast year.  TERRIFIC!" said Taylor. "Birds ought to come into this year in excellent condition, like we haven’t seen in a long time."

Although turkeys will feed on a variety of available food sources, much like other West Virginia wildlife, the acorns become their staple of the diet headed into winter.  Acorns were plentiful and Taylor says that bodes well for hunters.

"It should translate to more gobbling and hens are going to be better served when they go to lay eggs and set on the nest.  They should have really good fat reserves," said Taylor.  "We’re looking at what could be a really good season, but we always have to deal with the weather."

Wet weather could throw a wrench into hunters’ plans for the season, especially those who have only limited hunting opportunities.   Rain can cause turkeys to slow down their response to calls.  It can also muffle the sound of a turkey gobbler, making it more difficult for hunters to hear.  It may also dissuade some hunters from even going to the woods.  

The bigger threat from rain is later in the spring, as the young poults hatch and become too big to be sheltered by the hen’s wings.  The poults emerge from the nest still weeks away from developing feathers and personal insulation.  Wet and cold weather create a non-win situation for the poults.  They face either starvation if they remain sheltered or pneumonia if they brave the elements.

The season runs from April 25th until May 21st statewide.    Hunters are reminded to be extra careful to identity a target before shooting and that all hunters must be out of the woods by 1pm each hunting day.

This Saturday is the annual youth spring gobbler hunt.   The DNR passes along this note on the youth season:

A special one-day, youth spring gobbler hunt is open Saturday, April 23. Youth participating in this hunt must be at least eight years of age and no more than 18 years old on the day of the season.

“Hunters should note that the Natural Resources Commission approved increasing the maximum age to less than 18 years of age for the 2011 youth spring gobbler season,” said Taylor. Youth hunters 15–17 years of age must comply with all licensing requirements. Youth between 8–14 years of age must be accompanied by a licensed adult at least 21 years of age, who cannot carry a gun or bow and must remain close enough to render advice and assistance to the youngster. The only legal firearm that can be used by a youth hunter is a shotgun with shot sizes 4, 5 or 6.

The bag limit is one bearded turkey that will count toward the hunter’s annual bag limit. For more information please see page 33 of the 2010–2011 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.

Last year, youth hunters harvested 476 toms during the one-day youth spring gobbler season. “This special youth hunt provides an ideal opportunity for seasoned hunters to introduce young people to the joys of spring turkey hunting,” said Taylor. “In addition to having a great day afield, these adult mentors pass along their hunting knowledge, create great memories and keep the fine hunting tradition alive for the next generation of hunters.”


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