Nearly Turkey Time
The statewide turkey season will open with a youth season being held Saturday through Sunday, April 18 through 19, before opening for all hunters on Monday, April 20 through May 16. Michael L. Peters, game bird and small-game project leader for the West Virginia DNR, said the state has experienced a mild winter and had a good 2019 mast production, he believes the spring 2020 harvest will be average.
“In the past youth season was on the Saturday prior to the season. By adding an extra day to the youth season, we wanted to give kids more opportunities to get out and enjoy a hunting adventure,” said Peters a turkey biologist for the DNR.
“Having increased harvest opportunities this year is really encouraging, and with everyone avoiding crowds due to the Coronavirus, I can’t think of a better way to relax and forget about your worries than to go turkey hunting. Nothing is more distancing than being alone in the woods, sitting with your back against a tree in the middle of nowhere, trying to call in ole’ Tom.”
During spring 2019, counties with the highest harvest numbers were Mason 464, Preston 455, Jackson 447, Wood 362, and Harrison with 347. Statewide, a total of 11,210 birds were harvested. Wetzel County had 270 and Tyler 217 birds taken in spring season last year. The estimated population is about 112,100 birds for this year season.
Turkey hunters in West Virginia can anticipate increased harvest opportunities during this year’s spring gobbler season. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources biologists make spring harvest predictions by looking at brood reports from two years earlier because the average harvested gobbler is a 2-year-old bird. In 2018, brood production was 16 percent above the five-year average.
Season limit is two bearded turkeys and only one per day with shooting hours 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. It is illegal to have an uncased firearm, bow, or crossbow in your possession in the woods after 1 p.m., hunt with dogs, electronic calls, or hunt over bait. Check all rules and regulations before going afield and make sure if you’re hunting on private property to always get a written permission slip from the landowner.
Youth under the age of 18 can harvest one bearded bird, which counts towards their season bag limit of two. The statewide four-week spring gobbler season will run through May 16 and adult hunters can harvest one bearded bird per day with a season bag limit of two. All hunters age 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 www.wvhunt.com.
Myself, I enjoy hunting the wild turkey, and always identify my target before shooting, while having respect for the other hunters in the area. Everyone, have a safe enjoyable spring season and good luck. Remember if hunting on private property, always respect the landowners land and safety first. BE SAFE!