OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle: Turkey season starts Monday

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Missouri’s youth turkey season was last weekend and, starting Monday (April 19), it’s turkey time for  the rest of Missouri’s turkey hunters.

The season will be three weeks long, ending May 9, with regulations the same as they’ve been for several years – shooting hours from a half-hour before local sunrise until 1 p.m. CDT each day – and a season limit of two bearded turkeys, with only one taken during the first week.

Turkey populations are down from the “golden years” in the early 2000s, but there are still turkeys out there; you just have to find them.

It’s also “North Missouri Slam” time, an endeavor named several years ago by an excited first-time hunter who had just taken his first gobbler and was really pumped.

He named the “Slam” after expressing an interest in picking morels and crappie fishing. He determined that a “Slam” should include killing a turkey, taking a limit of crappies, and picking a “mess” of tasty morel mushrooms, all in the same day.

I’ve never been able to accomplish this, although it’s an admirable goal that I’m sure someone has already done. Let me know if you accomplish this; there are no cash rewards, trophies or medals, just the feeling of accomplishment that you’ve done something not many others have done.

I’ve heard catfish are hungrily biting in area streams and lakes and crappies should be making their annual shallow-water run to spawn any time now.

An ultralight rod and reel and some small jig baits fished just below a bobber for crappies works for me, and the thought of some freshly-caught fried crappie is really appealing.

The limit on crappies varies in different bodies of water, but is 30 per day in many lakes and ponds. Thirty crappies is enough for a family feed.

I’m not very adept at finding morels, but do stumble into some once in a while when I’m turkey hunting, which is why I always have a couple of zippered bags in my turkey vest.

Fresh-fried morels also sound awful good to me, and they are a great side dish for that fried crappie. I’m getting hungry just writing this!

Turkey hunting could be a little slow this year, as Missouri’s turkey population is still down, due to a series of poor hatches and loss of nesting habitat when a lot of CRP (conservation reserve plan) ground was replaced with crop acres a few years back.

Hopefully, hunters did get to spend some time scouting and found some huntable gobblers. If not, it might take a while to find a workable turkey and acquire the “fixings” for next fall’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Before going into the woods, don’t forget to spray yourself with tick repellent. I’ve heard that people already are discovering hungry ticks on their bodies after sojourns outdoors.

The first 2021 new-Missouri-record fish already has been caught. It’s a 2-pounds, 7-ounces yellow perch taken at Bull Shoals Lake on March 7 by Sharon Christopher of Cedar Hill while fishing for crappie.

She and others with her reportedly were in the process of cleaning their crappie haul when a friend said, “Don’t clean that perch; it might be big enough to be a record.” And when officially weighed by the Missouri Department of Conservation, it was!

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column appears in the C-T every Saturday)