Biologists anticipate increased turkey harvest opportunity

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Biologists anticipate increased turkey harvest opportunity
Spring gobbler season is anticipated to be productive. (McKenzie Young photo courtesy W.Va. Dept. of Commerce)

Turkey hunters in West Virginia can anticipate increased harvest opportunities during the 2020 spring gobbler season, which is scheduled to open Monday, April 20, according to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources.

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Predictions are based on brood reports from two years earlier, as the average harvested gobbler is a two-year-old bird, and in 2018, brood production was 16 percent above the five-year average, said Mike Peters, a turkey biologist with the division.

“Having increased harvest opportunities this year is really encouraging,” Peters said.

“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."

Turkey hunting is, after all, a solitary pursuit that practically demands hours of isolation, he says.

"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 ol’ Tom.”

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Youth Turkey Season Expanded

The youth turkey season has also been expanded to include an extra day in 2020, Peters said.

In past years, the youth turkey season was set for the Saturday before the opening day of the regular spring turkey season. This year, however, the season will be Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19.

“By adding an extra day to the youth season, we wanted to give kids more opportunities to get out and enjoy a hunting adventure,” Peters said.

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 .

Officials are also reminding hunters that hunting turkeys over bait and killing hens is illegal, and turkey hunters are encouraged to report any illegal activity to a DNR Law Enforcement officer.

The West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation also pays a $100 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone using bait in an attempt to kill wild turkeys.

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