Spring gobbler season opens Monday, April 28 and runs through Saturday, May 24, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section. While hunters may kill only one bearded turkey per day, they are allowed two per season.
A one-day youth season will be held on Saturday, April 26. A turkey harvested that day counts towards the season bag limit of two gobblers.
"Turkeys that are more vocal and prone to come to calls are obviously taken during the first week of the season, but good to excellent hunting can still be had through the end of the season,” said Taylor. “Some of the best hunts take place in the last week, if not the last days, of the season as gobblers that are interested in breeding easily come to calls.”
Since the typical gobbler harvested is usually a two-year-old bird, the DNR routinely uses the brood reports from two years prior to estimate harvest trends. On a statewide level, the brood reports from 2012 were lower than the five-year average, indicating that the statewide harvest may be lower in 2014. There were regional variations in the data. Hunters in the southern region may not see a decline. Hunters in the mountain and western regions, however, will likely notice fewer birds.
Taylor wants to remind sportsmen and women that hunting turkeys over bait is both illegal and unethical in West Virginia. This activity disrespects the great sport of spring gobbler hunting. He encourages turkey hunters to report any such activity to their local Natural Resources Police Officer. The West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation 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.
Wild Turkey Survey Cooperators Needed
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources personnel began a statewide survey of spring gobbler hunters in 1983, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. This useful survey has the hunter record items of interest by day, such as the number of gobblers heard, called in, missed and harvested. Biologists are also interested in the number of other wildlife observed by hunters, and their most memorable experiences during the season.
“Data from the survey are then tabulated and compared against previous years in a report that is mailed back to all cooperators the next year,” noted Taylor. “It’s a great way to track wild turkey and other wildlife populations. In addition, it provides a great forum for hunters to express their opinions directly to wildlife biologists.”
Hunters wishing to help the Spring Gobbler Committee by completing the survey should go online to www.wvdnr.gov,
select the Hunting Main Page and look for the Spring Gobbler Survey form and print it out. You may also contact: Tammie Thompson, WVDNR, P.O. Box 67, Elkins, WV 26241, or phone 304-637-0245. Complete your daily observations and the survey questions, mail it back to the DNR, and you could be included in next year’s publication.