Spring Gobbler Season April 24 – May 20
Bill Igo, wild turkey biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), advises hunters to start getting into shape for the upcoming spring gobbler hunting season. “With the opening date of April 24 quickly approaching, hunters need to begin hiking up and down our hills so they will be in shape when they hit the woods to hunt,” Igo advised. The four-week hunting season will end May 20. Igo also recommended that spring gobbler hunters make sure they are prepared with proper clothing, a shotgun that is appropriately patterned, and have adequate hunting gear, such as turkey calls, knife, rain gear, compass/GPS unit, matches, maps, and a pencil for filling out field tags.
This will be the second year in West Virginia that there will be a special youth spring gobbler season for one day, Saturday, April 22, just prior to the regular Monday season opening. Youth hunters last year harvested 302 toms in the Mountain State 's inaugural one-day youth hunt. Youth hunters must be at least eight years of age and no more than 14 years old on the day of the season. They must be accompanied by a licensed adult of at least 21 years of age, who cannot carry a gun or bow and must remain close enough to render advice and assistance. The only legal weapon that can be used by a youth hunter is a shotgun with shot sizes 4, 5, or 6 permitted. “The youth day hunt will be an ideal time for seasoned hunters to introduce another generation to spring turkey hunting, hopefully passing on some of their hunting knowledge and creating a memorable, rewarding hunt with a youngster,” commented Igo.
Biologists are predicting better gobbling and a higher harvest than last year's kill of 10,957. “ West Virginia experienced a fairly good brood count in 2004,” Igo said. “We have found that brood counts accurately predict harvests two years down the road and generally two-year old toms are more talkative and vulnerable than other gobblers, and therefore easier to harvest.” With brood counts down 22 percent in 2005 from 2004, biologists are already forecasting a lower gobbler harvest for the spring 2007 season.
Igo also advises hunters to be aware of some gobblers wearing radio transmitters. These radios are used in a statewide gobbler survival study to determine causes of mortality, effects of hunting, and other biological data to help the DNR manage the wild turkey. Hunters harvesting a banded or radioed bird should contact their local District Wildlife office or the Elkins Operations Center .
Another DNR project for managing wild turkeys is the Spring Gobbler Survey, conducted jointly with the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Cooperating hunters submit daily records of their hunts and complete a brief questionnaire. A hunter does not have to kill a gobbler to provide useful data. Most of the information collected deals with what a hunter hears, sees, or has an opinion about. Any hunter desiring to receive a copy of the annual report is required to participate in the survey. Spring gobbler hunters wanting to participate in the survey are encouraged to contact Patty Fordyce , West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 67, Elkins, WV 24241, telephone: (304) 637-0245 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .