West Virginia Turkey Season Set to Open April 25th

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The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages hunters to get their gear ready for the upcoming spring gobbler hunting season. The four-week season opens Monday, April 25, and closes on Saturday, May 21, according to Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section. Hunters may kill two bearded turkeys during the season but are allowed only one per day.

Taylor recommends spring gobbler hunters make sure they are prepared with proper clothing, a shotgun that is appropriately patterned, and adequate hunting gear (e.g., turkey calls, knife, rain gear, compass/GPS unit, matches, maps and a pencil for completing field tags). He urges hunters not to wear clothing with the colors of red, white or blue – the colors of a mature gobbler's head and neck area.

Hunters must be out of the woods by 1 p.m. After putting their firearms or bows away for the day, sportsmen may want to grab a rod and reel to go fishing for trout, which are stocked in more than 100 waters in the spring, or warmwater fish, which become more active as temperatures rise.

Youth Spring Gobbler 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."

Cash Rewards for Poaching Information

Taylor also reminds citizens that the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will pay $200 cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons who illegally kill or possess a wild turkey. "This cooperative effort between the NWTF and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is designed to curtail illegal activities associated with the state's wild turkey resource," said Taylor.

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 or know of a person possessing an illegally killed turkey. 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.

The baiting of wild turkey also is illegal in West Virginia. The West Virginia Chapter of the NWTF 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. Baiting, along with trespassing, continue to be the most common hunting violations reported in the Wildlife Resources Section's Annual Spring Gobbler Survey.

"Baiting turkeys is not only illegal but also unethical and creates disrespect for the great sport of spring gobbler hunting," said Taylor. "I encourage turkey hunters to report any such activity to their local natural resources police officer."