OUTDOORS: Turkey season opens week from today

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Missouri’s annual spring turkey seasons will begin next Saturday with the opening of the youth-only season. It will run only April 10-11, closing on Sunday at sunset.

The youth season is short, but the young hunters are allowed to hunt all day (from a half-hour before sunrise until sunset), unlike regular-season hunters who have to stop hunting at 1 p.m. CDT each day of their 3-week season.

Youth-only season is restricted to hunters age 6-15 years on opening day and they are allowed only one (1) male turkey or turkey with a visible beard.

Youth hunters who are successful in taking that one turkey during their brief season may not harvest a second bird until April 26, the beginning of the second week of the regular season. They have to “sit out” the first week of the April 19-May 9 regular season.

It’s really hard to predict, but it appears that the youth season this year might occur during the first peak of gobbling activity.

The off-on weather we’ve experienced this winter and early spring has probably confused the gobbling turkeys as much as it has us, but conditions are pretty good for gobblers to “fire up” and actively gobble and pursue hens during the early days of Missouri’s two spring turkey seasons. I expect the young hunters may bring in some dandy gobblers April 10 and 11.

The rest of us (read: older) turkey hunters will just have to be patient and wait until April 19 to seek our “turkey fix” for 2021.

This year’s regulations are basically unchanged from the last several years.

They allow hunting from a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m. shooting hours, using shotguns (size 4 or smaller shot), bows, crossbows and atlatls, and a two (2) bearded-turkey limit, with only one allowed during the first week, and no more than one (1) per day during the entire season.

Hopefully, you have spent or will spend enough time scouting to locate some good candidates for a Thanksgiving Day dinner and can spend enough time to relocate them during the season. Shoot straight and enjoy Missouri’s spring outdoors.

When you hit the woods, be sure to “spray down” to keep the ticks off and don’t forget to take a sack to hold the morel mushrooms you just might stumble into while turkey hunting. The weather appears to be favorable for morels to be popping up during turkey season.

If both the turkeys and the morels are not showing up, bring along a rod and reel; the crappies and bass ought to be hungry and ready to hit a lure.

There’s a lot to do outdoors this time of the year. Try not to miss out on any of it.

Speaking of fish, an Osage County angler, fishing for catfish in the Osage River, got a big surprise on March 4 when a 112-pounds black carp (an invasive species) hit his bait.

Black carp are rare in Missouri and are really not wanted because of their destructive eating habits, dining on mussels and snails. But one that size can give you a really big thrill when it hits your bait while you’re fishing for catfish!

Good luck hunting and fishing, it’s a great time to be outdoors!