OUTDOORS: Bowhunters just getting started

BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T/LCL Outdoors Sports Editor

Archery deer and turkey season has been open for three weeks already, but bowhunters really are just getting started.

With the annual deer rut due to begin soon, many hunters who were waiting for this opportunity to get a “big one” will heading for the woods in earnest. And I’ve always suspected that more archery turkeys are killed by hunters who were really out after deer when a turkey came wandering by than by archers who were really after turkeys only.

Two earlier firearms seasons – for doves and early teal – might have had bowhunter’s attention last month, but now early teal season is over and doves have mostly gone on south, so archers can concentrate on deer and turkeys.

Fall firearms turkey season opened Oct. 1 and will remain open through Oct. 30. Based on license sales, it appears that this season really doesn’t draw a crowd, as only a small number of turkey hunters choose to hunt during this fall season.

Duck season opening at the end of October, with all the effort required to prepare for duck hunting, may divert Missouri hunters’ attention during October.

So far, relatively few deer and turkeys have been checked in by bowhunters and the archery season totals are only small percentage of those taken by gun hunters in spring turkey and firearms deer season. A lot more bowhunters are hunting actively now than the number a few years back, but gun hunting is still way more popular for deer and turkeys.

Fall firearms turkey hunting was first permitted in 1980, a few years after spring turkey hunting was first allowed in Missouri.

Originally the fall limit was only one turkey, but that was raised to two in 1986 after studies showed that fall hunting allowing both male and female turkeys had no impact on the turkey population.

For a little while, fall hunting for turkeys was pretty popular, but deer and duck hunting attracted many of these fall turkey hunters and now only a relatively-few fall firearms turkey hunting permits are sold. Many turkey hunters go to hear the gobbling, and there’s not much gobbling activity in the fall.

October is my favorite month of the year, weather-wise, and, in my opinion, Missouri’s fall woods are the prettiest ever when the leaves turn color and start falling.

Sitting quietly in the woods on a brisk morning, listening to the various birds wake up, is one of my most-favorite hunting activities, and a lot more fun than camouflaging a duck blind with itchy old ripgut. I had to learn a whole different kind of calling, but have found fall turkeys to be even more responsive than spring gobblers on many occasions.

I’m going to have to take off some days from turkey hunting to get ready for duck season which will open Oct. 30 here in Missouri’s North Zone. By then, fall turkey hunting will be pretty much over with just one day remaining.

It’ll be a while before I can get a full night’s sleep, but this is the time of year I’ve waited for all summer long.

Good hunting and be safe!

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