WV Wildlife: Spring Gobbler Season Underway

A variety of calls can be used to attract a gobbler, including a slate call. A 'hands free' diaphragm turkey call is also a good option. (WCHS/WVAH)

Heath Miles, a West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Manager at Chief Cornstalk in Mason County, loves to turkey hunt--but he isn't the only one.

"We estimate about 100,000 hunters to enter the woods over the next four weeks", said Miles.

No matter if the weather has been behaving like it or not--which may make these birds a little less active--spring gobbler season is now here, and runs through May 12th.

"Typically, you do have good weather--but this year has been a little different", said Miles.

This is the time of the year when the majestic gobbler, or the male, is strutting around and making calls in hopes of drawing a hen in for some courtship.

As a hunter, though, the hope is to flip this process. Miles explains.

"You get out early in the morning, as daylight breaks. You know, the gobblers are on the limb--they start gobbling--the hens start talking and we as hunters are trying to reverse nature. We're trying to be the hen, and bring him to us".

This makes for an interesting hunt, one in which you want to stay still, be patient and use a variety of calls to entice a male bird to move in closer. This is also why safety is especially important when turkey hunting.

"It involves the highest risk of any type of hunting that we have--primarily because you are trying to be what you're pursuing. Be sure of your target. Take the time to make sure that it does have a beard. That should allow you to clarify your target, as well as what's beyond it", said Miles.

Having a broad tree at your back is a good way to stay safer, too, and you don't want to wear any red, white or blue--colors that may get mistaken for a gobbler.

No matter if you use a shotgun, a bow, or even a rifle, just make sure to be out of the woods with them--if left uncased--after 1PM. The afternoon is when hens are moving around and looking for food.

"Our season is set up biologically for the turkeys--to ensure nesting, reproduction, good recruitment for the following year, but also to help the hunter out. There's not as many turkeys gobbling as you may have heard two weeks ago, but all of those hens are nesting now--that's less competition for us as hunters", said Miles.

Enjoy the hunt and be safe out there!

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