Gobbler season opens Monday

PARKERSBURG – Spring gobbler season opens Monday in West Virginia.

Hunters during the four -week season can kill one bearded turkey a day and are allowed two a season.

“Unlike 2012, when spring green-up came early, this year winter is still hanging on and very few trees have leaves out yet,” Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section, said.

The season ends May 18.

The late appearance of spring will likely increase the distance hunters can hear a gobbler, he said.

“However, the peak of gobbling occurs near the end of April or early May as hens go to incubate their clutches, so hunters shouldn’t be surprised if they hear more birds at that time,” Taylor said.

Gobblers will also be more willing to come to calls once hens have gone to incubate their clutches so hunters should continue hunting as the season progresses, he said.

“More than 50 percent of the harvest occurs during the first week of the season, so hopefully it won’t be snowing like it did last year,” Taylor said. “While the snow has little effect on the gobblers, it definitely makes it more difficult on the hunters, which was one reason the harvest was down in 2012.”

If the weather cooperates and 65,000 hunters hit the field as anticipated, the harvest should be the typical 9,000 turkeys compared to 8,300 in 2012, he said.

In 1983, the Wildlife Resources Section began a statewide survey of spring gobbler hunters to record items of interest by day, like the number of gobblers heard, called in, missed and harvested.

The division also is interested in other animals seen and the most memorable experience. The data is tabulated and compared against previous years in a report sent to all cooperators the next year.

The information also is invaluable to helping biologists manage the wildlife resources in the state. For more information, call Tammie Thompson at 304-637-0245 or download a form at www.wvdnr.gov.

A special one-day, youth spring gobbler hunt will be held today. Participants must be at least 8 and no more than 18-years old today.

Hunters between 15 and 17 must comply with all applicable licensing requirements. Hunters under 15 must be accompanied by a licensed adult at least 21 years old who cannot carry a gun or bow and must remain close enough to render advice and assistance.

The only legal firearm that can be used by a youth hunter is a shotgun with shot sizes no larger than 4 or smaller than 7.

The bag limit is one bearded turkey that will count toward the hunter’s annual bag limit. For more information, see the 20122013 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.

Last year, youth hunters harvested 432 gobblers, up 10 percent from 2011 when 392 were killed. The special youth hunt is an opportunity for seasoned hunters to introduce young people to the joys of spring gobbler hunting.

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.

Also, the National Wild Turkey Federation will pay $200 cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of poachers who illegally kill or possess a wild turkey.

“This cooperative effort between the NWTF and the DNR is designed to curtail illegal activities associated with the state’s wild turkey resource,” Taylor said.

The federation also pays a reward of $100 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons attempting to kill wild turkeys through the use of bait or who willfully destroy the nest or eggs of wild turkey.

“The public is urged to contact their local natural resources police officer or their local DNR district office if they see someone illegally killing a turkey, know of a person possessing an illegally killed turkey, or know of a person attempting to kill wild turkeys through the use of bait,” Taylor said. “The informant’s identity will remain confidential. By reporting poaching incidents, the public can make a significant contribution to West Virginia’s wild turkey management program.”