Outdoors: Spring gobbler season under way in West Virginia

Photo Provided West Virginia’s 2019 spring gobbler season opened on April 15 and ends May 11.

West Virginia’s four-week spring gobbler season opened April 15 and runs through May 11.

Hunters can harvest one bearded turkey per day with a season bag limit of two.

The one-day youth season will be held April 13, the Saturday before the regular season. Youth 8-18 can harvest one bearded bird which counts toward their season bag limit of two.

Check the 2018-2019 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for details at www.wvdnr.gov/hunting/Regs1819/Turkey.pdf.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is anticipating an average harvest for spring gobblers this year. The division typically predicts the spring harvest by using the brood reports from two years earlier because the average harvested spring gobbler is a 2-year old bird.

In 2017, brood production was 30 percent below the five-year average. However, Mike Peters, DNR game bird biologist, said 2016 was a banner year for broods because of the eruption of the 17-year cicadas, an abundant food source.

“2016 was an exceptional production and recruitment year,” said Peters. “Overall 2017 brood production was on par with a typical year, meaning the 2019 spring gobbler season should produce a typical harvest.”

All hunters 15 and older are required to have a West Virginia hunting or sportsman license and a valid form of identification while hunting. A West Virginia hunting or sportsman license can be purchased at approximately 180 retail agents around the state or online at wvhunt.com.

The division reminds sportsmen and women that hunting turkeys over bait and killing hens is illegal. Turkey hunters are encouraged to report any such activity to their local Natural Resources Police Officer or call 911 to report the violation.

Also, the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation pays a $100 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone using bait to attempt killing wild turkeys.