OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle: Outdoors time coming up

Wild turkey and mushroom hunting and crappie fishing are just over the spring outdoors pursuits horizon, C-T outdoors sports editor Bill Wehrle highlights in his weekly OUTDOORS column

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor
Bill Wehrle column

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Hopefully the bitter cold and snow we suffered through in February is over for this year. The warm weather that followed in the first week of March got a lot of us thinking ahead to the outdoor excitement coming up fairly soon.

I’m referring to crappie fishing, morel mushrooms, turkey hunting, and clay target shooting, all of which are April and May activities to keep us entertained before summer’s heat gives us something else to complain about.

Missouri outdoors time is coming up soon!

Turkey hunting, crappie fishing and morel finding all seem to happen at about the same time. It’s possible to combine these activities into a single day and maybe strive for a “North Missouri Grand Slam,” but I’ll warn you – too many of those days can wear you out.

Missouri’s annual spring turkey season comes first, with a youth-only season open April 10-11. And it’s then only eight days until the regular season opens to run through May 9.

You can’t take more than two turkeys, but it can take all season to get them, and some folks don’t achieve that.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is predicting a “challenging” turkey season, as Missouri’s wild turkey population has declined drastically in the last 20 years. You may have a problem locating many huntable birds, so I’d suggest that you start serious scouting now.

Several years of poor turkey reproduction and habitat changes have contributed to a population decline from almost a million wild turkeys in Missouri in the 1900s to an estimated 375,000 of the big birds now.

While turkey scouting, you might want to watch the ground in possible morel locations. They won’t be popping up until the soil warms, but a warm spring rain (not Wednesday’s frigid one) can bring this on pretty quick.

The best morel hunting time pretty much coincides with turkey season – mid-April to mid-May. My advice is to always carry a sack while out walking around, so you can bring some morels home with you.

Crappie fishing also shares the mid-April-to-mid-May time slot and is dependent on the water warming up enough to stir their spawning urge.

You might want to bring along a rod and reel while turkey scouting and check out some of your favorite crappie locations. Fried crappie and morels make a fine meal and I have actually participated in a few of these.

A couple other outdoor activities that come to mind in the same time frame are catfishing (old-timers always told me that the big cats are biting in May) and clay-target shooting.

The Boot Hill sporting clays range near Hamilton is shooting their league already and the Trenton Trap and Skeet club is open on nice days for practice, with a league to begin April 22.

Shotgun target ammunition still seems to be hard to find on dealer shelves, so keep your eyes open and check for some often. The price is high and might not go down in the near future, so if you need and find some, better not quibble about price – just buy it; it might not get cheaper for a while, if ever.

Get outdoors and have some fun! Spring is just around the corner!

(Bill Wehrle’s outdoors sports column appears in the Constitution-Tribune each Saturday.)