Spring gobbler season is almost here

I was at the Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs expo last Saturday and got to talking with one of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Police Officers, whom I have known for several years.

Just to get conversation started, I said the hunting and trapping regulations he had for handout material was obsolete.

The officer quickly replied by saying, no these regulations don’t become obsolete until July 1, 2014, and the 2014 spring gobbler dates and regulations were contained in this pamphlet. The veteran officer was quite correct. The 2014 statewide spring gobbler season comes in April 28 and runs through May 24.

Now is the time for all spring gobbler hunting enthusiasts to be getting their gear ready for action and at the same time tuning up their turkey calling skills. The real sport in this game is to be able to call the bird to come to you.

All spring gobbler hunters need to remember that it is unlawful to have an uncased firearm or bow in their possession while in the woods after 1 p.m. It is also unlawful to spring gobbler hunt with dogs, use electronic calls and hunt using any form of bait. Only one bearded turkey can be taken per day.

A special one-day youth spring gobbler hunt will be held on Saturday, April 26. Class Q/QQ and Class XS license holders are not eligible to be in this hunt. Youth participating in this one-day hunt must be at least eight years old and less than 18 years of age. Hunters who are 15-17 years of age must comply with all licensing requirements.

Youth hunters between 8-14 must be accompanied by a licensed adult, who cannot carry a gun or bow, to render advice and/or assistance.

The various youth hunts are not only important for the future of sport hunting, but also provide great opportunity for seasoned hunters to introduce young people to the joys of any type of hunting.

The bag limit is one bearded turkey, and the harvested turkey will count toward the youth hunters bag limit. Youth hunters can only use a shotgun with shot size no larger than No. 4 or smaller than No. 7 1/2. Last year, youth hunters harvested 563 spring gobblers or approximately five percent of the total spring gobbler harvest of 11,162.

Spring gobbler season is considered by many to be the most dangerous hunting season in the state. From the data I was able to collect, there was only two accidents during the spring gobbler season in 2013. The first was in Lewis County when a 30-year-old man slipped and fell and the second was in Harrison County when a 58-year-old man fell from a tree stand.