West Virginia's 2009 statewide spring wild turkey season opens on April 27 and runs through May 23, according to Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources' (DNR's) Wildlife Resources Section.
In addition, a special one-day youth spring gobbler season will be held on April 25 prior to the statewide spring gobbler season. "This special youth season, open to youth hunters from the ages of eight to14, provides seasoned spring gobbler hunters an excellent mentoring opportunity to train our youth on the various aspects of spring turkey hunting such as proper equipment, calling techniques, set-up strategies, ethics, and safety," said Taylor.
"West Virginia continues to support abundant wild turkey populations that provide spring gobbler hunters with excellent hunting opportunities," said Taylor. Wildlife biologists are projecting this year's spring wild turkey season harvest to be slightly higher than the 2008 harvest of 9,965 gobblers. Based upon a review of the brood surveys from previous years and weather conditions during the 2008 spring gobbler season, biologists are predicting that the 2009 spring gobbler season should exceed the 10,000 bird threshold. The DNR has designed the spring gobbler hunting season to conserve the wild turkey resource and to provide quality hunting recreation.
Hunters are reminded that shooting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and end at 1 p.m., at which time hunters are required to be out of the woods. The spring gobbler season bag limit is two bearded birds and hunters are required by law to check their gobblers at an official game checking station. "The harvest data obtained from these official game checking stations provides essential information used by our wildlife biologists to monitor turkey populations and better manage the wild turkey resource in West Virginia," said Taylor.
Hunters are also reminded that spring gobblers may be equipped with radio transmitters and/or leg bands as a part of the DNR's gobbler survival study. Hunters harvesting a banded and/or radioed bird should contact their local DNR District Office or the Elkins Operation Center for further information.
The DNR, in conjunction with the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, will once again be conducting the Annual Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey. Cooperators will be required to keep a daily log of their hunting experiences and complete a questionnaire at the close of the season. This valuable information will further assist the DNR in managing our state's wild turkey resource.
Hunters interested in participating in the survey are encouraged to contact Tammie Thompson, West Virginia DNR, PO Box 67, Elkins, WV 26241, telephone (304) 637-0245.
West Virginia is blessed with an abundance of public lands distributed throughout the state that support healthy wild turkey populations. Hunters may wish to consider hunting on public lands associated with West Virginia's vast wildlife management area system. For additional information, hunters should contact their local DNR District Office or check out the DNR's Web site.