The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages all spring gobbler hunters to get ready for the season to open. The four-week season begins Monday, April 23, and closes on Saturday, May 19, 2012. Hunters may kill only one bearded turkey per day, and are allowed two per season.
“Spring green-up is early this year, but the cool weather we just experienced likely will enhance the gobbling that hunters will hear when the season opens,” according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section. Taylor believes the gobbler harvest for 2012 may be very similar to the prior year, provided that the hunters don’t give up early in the season. “With the early arrival of spring, many counties are in full leaf-out, which may reduce the distance one can hear a gobbler, but it has no impact on gobbling activity.”
Since the typical gobbler harvested is usually a twoyear old bird, the DNR routinely utilizes the brood reports from two years prior to estimate harvest. “With all factors considered, we believe 2010 to be an average brood production year and anticipating an average hunter participation and harvest, the 2012 season should see between 9,000-10,000 birds,” noted Taylor.
The recruitment of young birds is highly influenced by weather conditions and is crucial to turkey populations and harvest. Turkey productivity is best during mild, somewhat dry springs.
Youth Spring Gobbler Season April 21
A special one-day, youth spring gobbler hunt will open Saturday, April 21. 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.
Youth hunters 15–17 years of age must comply with all licensing requirements. Hunters under 15 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 no larger than #4 or smaller than #7 ½.
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 2011–2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
Last year, youth hunters harvested 392 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.”