Spring gobbler season expands from four to five weeks

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Spring gobbler season expands from four to five weeks
Two hunters await the opportunity to take a West Virginia spring gobbler. (Photo courtesy W.Va. Dept. of Commerce)

Beginning this year, West Virginia’s statewide spring gobbler season will run for five weeks instead of four, according to Mike Peters, wild turkey project leader for West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

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The 2021 season opens Monday, April 19, the third Monday in April but now ends Sunday, May 23, eight days later than last year. Hunters may harvest one bearded bird per day with a season bag limit of two.

Also, the two-day youth spring gobbler season will be held April 17-18—the Saturday and Sunday before the regular season. Youth at least eight years old and younger than 18 may harvest one bearded bird, which counts toward their season bag limit of two.

Peters underscored the unmatched opportunity for hunters young and old this season.

“Between the extended youth and regular spring turkey season, hunters of all ages will have plenty of opportunities to pursue these birds."

Hunters are encouraged to check the 2021-2022 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for details, available at . Hunting licenses may be purchased online at WVhunt.com or at license agents located across the state.

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The spring turkey harvest is dependent on the number of birds available, or population size, and participation, or the number of hunters.

The division typically projects the spring harvest by using turkey brood reports from two years earlier because the average harvested spring gobbler is a two-year-old bird.

In 2019, turkey brood observations were 42 percent below 2018 observations and 32 percent below the five-year average from 2015-2019.

“Under previous hunting regulations we would project this year’s harvest to be lower than last year,” Peters said.

“With the increased number of days available to hunt this season, we expect the overall spring turkey harvest to be similar to 2020.”

Hunting turkeys over bait and killing hens is illegal. Turkey hunters are encouraged to report any such activity to their local Natural Resources Police Officer or call 911 to report the violation.

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

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