OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle: Turkey hunting's up next – tick, tick, tick

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor   

In only two weeks, the first of Missouri’s spring turkey seasons will open with the April 10-11 youth-only season. Just over a week after that, the regular season will begin on April 19 to run  through May 9. 

After the recent up-and-down weather, which saw temperatures go from pleasant to below zero to unseasonably warm in only a couple of weeks, Missouri turkey hunters are wondering what they will face outdoors during this spring’s season. 

I’m guessing the turkeys are just as confused as the hunters are, but it won’t take much warm weather to get their systems up and ready for their most exciting time of the year, with gobblers eagerly looking for available hens, and hens preparing for their annual nesting and brood rearing. 

I’ve heard the gobblers are gobbling now, getting ready to announce their availability to the hens. Eager hunters are probably practicing their ability to produce hen calls on their slates, boxes and diaphragm calls. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation has forecast a “challenging” 2021 season, as turkey numbers are down in many Missouri locations, due to several years of poor reproduction and the loss of brood-raising habitat, due to reduction in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program acreage. 

Hunters might need to put in extra scouting time to locate a few cooperative gobblers, but it only takes two of these to fill a season’s limit. It might take more windshield time and more walking, but determination and diligence can still pay off in your getting one or two big gobblers to come to your calls. 

If you don’t have enough turkey shotshells, you might want to look for some right away. 

In recent months, ammunition of all types has been hard to find and turkey loads might also be in short supply. It only takes a couple of shells to get your turkeys if all goes well, but if you were planning on patterning a new gun or just tuning up your shooting eye, you might need a few more. And the increase in gasoline prices could also possibly affect your scouting efforts. 

With the opening of turkey season also comes the best time to look for morel mushrooms or try some early-season crappie and bass fishing. 

However, with these outdoor activities also comes hungry ticks ready to feast on your blood after a long winter of not eating. 

Equally important to shotgun and shells should be insect repellent for your body and anti-tick spray for your clothes. Use both liberally before any jaunts in the woods or grassy areas to ensure no ticks fasten onto you. 

Ticks spread a variety of diseases to humans, none of which are fun and some that are fatal. Don’t give those little suckers an opportunity!   

The Trenton Trap and Skeet Club will begin a spring-summer 10-weeks trap-shooting league in about three weeks and has openings for additional 5-member teams or alternate spots on existing teams. 

If you’d like to have some great fun and shotgun practice, call Dick Thompson at 660-359-1964 and he’ll help you get a spot on a team.  

Turkeys, morels, crappies, ticks and trap – it’s going to be a great spring and summer. 

Let’s have some outdoor fun! 

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