The spring turkey season just wrapped up and the final numbers are out. It looks like the hunting was good all over the Mountain State with hunters bagging 10,369 bearded birds.
That number is a little more than 1300 birds more than were killed last year and a full 1000 birds above the previous 5 year average. So, it looks like it was a pretty good season, unless you were a gobbler.
The top five counties this spring were Mason County (379), Preston County (372), Nicholas County (330), Wood County (326) and Wyoming County (320) respectively. Also, Lincoln County (216), Logan County (181), Boone County (157) and Mingo County (131) saw increases in the number of gobblers harvested this spring as well.
The increase in harvest numbers could be attributed to numerous factors, not the least of which might be the new one week earlier opening date, or perhaps the abundant good weather that was present for much of the season. It could, also, be that there were just more birds for the taking as was expected from the brood count numbers from a couple of years ago.
Regardless of the reasoning, it was a good year in the turkey woods, albeit a rough one as you may have noticed if you are a regular reader here. Sometimes, we turkey hunters have to suffer for our sport, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good year.
The turkey season may be over, but that doesn’t mean that the turkeys have any time to relax. The hunters may be out of the woods, but there are still a plethora of predators just waiting for their shot at a turkey dinner.
The next generation of turkeys is about to emerge and the coming weeks will be a critical time in determining how future spring seasons will unfold. If the coming weeks become too wet, or too cold, it could spell doom for many of the nests the hens have tended so carefully since being bred.
Even after the young poults have hatched, things don’t get any easier. There is danger at every turn and the young hatchlings make a tasty meal for a whole host of critters roaming the woods.
The Momma hen will do all she can to protect the little ones and teach them the ways of the wild, but still it is a struggle for the young birds from day one. It is a rough and tumble world out there, especially if you are a bird the size of a tennis ball.
No wonder turkeys are so keen and cunning when it comes to being hunted. They have grown up watching every move and being ready to flee at the slightest hint of trouble.
When you look at all the factors that go into managing the wild turkey population of the state and all of the variables that must be factored in, it really is a daunting task. Hats off to the WVDNR and all those who steward and look after not only the wild turkey, but all of the state’s wildlife resources.
It is always a big help to have so many dedicated groups looking after all things wild. Whether it be the turkey, the whitetail, or any other critter out there, the front line in conservation will always be the hunter.
So whether you are nursing your wounds from a rough season, or enjoying a turkey dinner, give yourself a pat on the back for helping look after your game species of choice and all the rest to boot. If it weren’t for you, the WVDNR couldn’t do their job and the life and times of the wild turkey would be tougher than it already is.