Saturday, April 26, marks the opening of the spring gobbler season for youth hunters when accompanied by a mentored hunter. This is followed on May 3 by the traditional spring gobbler season for all hunters. The statewide season in Pennsylvania runs until May 31.
According to Mary Jo Casalena, Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wild turkey biologist, the spring season promises to be a memorable one as hunters should see a higher number of year old males (jakes) as a result of an above-average reproduction in 2013. She surmises that many veteran hunters will likely hold out for bigger and larger gobblers, but an abundance of jakes could lead to increased sightings and hunter harvests.
Hunters ages 16 and younger can participate in Saturday’s youth only hunt, which gets underway a half-hour before sunrise as does the regular season opener that ends at noon for the first two weeks (May 3-17). Hunters should be out of the woods by 1 p.m. during the noon periods. This, says Casalena, is to minimize disturbance of nesting hens.
Starting May 19 until the season ends on May 31, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. These extended hours comes at a time when hunting pressure is lower and nesting hens are less likely to abandon nests, says the PGC biologist.
Aside from shotguns, both manual and semi-auto, hunters may use muzzleloader shotguns, crossbows, long, recurve and compound bows to hunt spring gobblers.
Hunters may once again purchase a second turkey tag but it must be purchased before May 2. Hunters holding two tags are reminded that only one bird may be harvested per day.
The PGC says Pennsylvania has more spring turkey hunters and boasts higher harvests than all other northeastern states. And the youth harvest alone exceeds the total spring harvest of some states.
Over the past 20 years, Keystone state hunters have taken more than 30,000 bearded turkeys during the spring season.
If there are two things spring gobbler hunters do wrong, it’s that they don’t have patience and they call too often say the experts at Hunters Specialties.
And the folks at Yamaha Outdoors say it’s not enough for hunters to hear turkeys, but they have to listen for them.
According to Steve Hickoff, a Yamaha Pro staffer, “Hunters should listen for other signs (other than turkey gobbles) like crows harassing turkeys or squirrels barking that could indicate a gobbler’s approach.”
He goes on to advise that hunters should listen for close-range drumming, the “pftt” drum sound a gobbler makes when he struts. This sound, he opines, also attracts hens.
“When hearing clucks, the pock sound when a turkey is close, says, “Where are you?” If he goes silent, listen for that call near your setup,” says Kickoff.
The veteran hunter believes it’s important to know the terrain you're hunting and how turkeys move in it. He suggests checking fields, clear cuts and power lines to look for silent strutters, as he calls them, especially if they’re near roosts or food sources.
CABELA’S ADVENTURE DAY SET
Cabela’s in Hamburg is hosting an Adventure Day at their store on May 3.
“We’ve partnered with U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation’s Youth Trailblazer program along with numerous other organizations for these free outdoor activities,” says Harold Luther, Cabela’s retail manager.
The family events run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day and includes such activities as:
* Catch and release trout fishing pond
* Cabela’s BB gun range
* Wildlife ID game and crafts
* Chainsaw carving
* Camping 101 presented by PA Campgrounds Association
* Archery 101 presented by United Bowhunters of PA
* Fly tying demos by Haggerty Lures
* Casting competition presented by Upstream Productions
* Birds of Prey by Hawk Mountain
* Local police and fire department vehicle displays.
For more information on these events go to www.cabelas.com/hamburg.
The Delaware River Shad Fisherman’s Hotline (610-954-0577/0578) reports Friday’s river water temperature was 54 degrees with the river still running a little high. And that it may rise higher after Friday and Saturday’s forecasted rain.
Down at the Trenton sector of the river, anglers have been boating 20-30 shad per boat on a variety of colored spoons and darts in white, chartreuse and pink.
The run may not last long so anglers are advised to get out there despite impending inclement weather.