Though the recent bout of cold weather may beg to differ, Spring is right around the corner and the wildlife around us is starting to show that they feel it, too.
The Robins have returned from their winter holiday from locations further south and the spring flowers are popping up even through the recent snowfall. Even ole Tom turkey is getting a little Spring fever.
Spring Gobbler season is less than a month away and hunters are as excited for Spring as the gobblers are. While the gobblers are strutting their stuff and showing off for their lady friends, the gobbler hunters are gathering their wares and preparing for the season.
This year Spring Gobbler season will officially kick off with the special one day youth hunt on Saturday April 15th. The one day season gives hunters ages 8 to 17 the first chance to bag their gobbler before the regular season opens on April 17th.
This will be the second year for the earlier opening date of the gobbler season. Last year the early opener was met with mixed reviews, but the harvest numbers were right on track with what the WVDNR had expected and were slightly higher than the harvest numbers from 2015.
In 2016 hunters bagged a reputable 10,381 gobblers across the state. This number was 15% above the 2015 harvest numbers and is exactly what biologists had predicted based on previous year’s brood production numbers. Those same brood numbers are predicting a similar availability of gobblers for the 2017 season.
If hunters want to continue this upward trend in harvest numbers, now is the time to start preparing for the season opener. It is time to get out to those familiar hunting areas to look and listen for gobblers exercising their vocal cords and announcing the early morning with their thunderous gobbles.
With the recent wet weather, it is, also, a good time to drive slowly along the dirt roads and backwoods trails looking for those big gobbler tracks that will clue us in to where ole Tom is calling home. It never hurts to have several good areas that are full of turkeys located for that first week of the season.
Just like in other sports, practice makes perfect. There is no time like the present to break out those turkey calls and brush up on the squeaks and squawks that sound like sweet music to the gobbler’s ears. Be sure to practice up on all the calls just so you are ready when that finicky Tom won’t answer your ”go to” call, you have a whole bag of tricks to throw at him.
If your favorite call is a glass or slate call, or a pot call of any kind, brush the dust off and get those strikers tuned up and ready, but don’t stop there. Break out that box call that you always carry in your vest and make sure you are ready to make sweet and sassy calls with it as well to talk that long beard into coming over for a visit.
Be sure to be proficient with every call in your vest. The more calls you have at your disposal only increases your odds of hanging your tag on that thunder chicken this spring. True turkey hunting fanatics know that you can never have too many calls and there is always room for one more in your vest.
This might be the year that the birds only want to hear the tried and true diaphragm calls, or maybe that box call will be the one that gets the boys fired up. You will be ahead of the game if you have one of each in your vest. Surely, that will be enough to get that big Tom to go for a ride in your truck.
Regardless of what calls you rely on, or what areas you prefer to hunt, the season will be here before you know it and there is no time like the present to get out and start preparing for the Spring hunt. Warmer weather will be back before you know it and gobbles will get louder and more frequent as the weeks tick by.
Preparation now will pay off huge when the season opener gets here. Just be careful to choose your practice times wisely because no matter how good we get with those turkey calls, wives have been known to get call shy a lot quicker than the gobblers.
Roger Wolfe writes about the outdoors for Civitas Media newspapers.