Mild winter could yield good gobbler hunt; Hunter-trapper safety courses
April 16, 2017 12:00 AM
Korey Gilmore, 8, of Glassport hauled this 20 7/8-inch golden rainbow out of Dunlap Lake, Fayette County, on Mentored Youth Fishing Day, with a little help from his dad Edward Gilmore.
By John Hayes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When junior hunters and mentored youth get the first crack at spring turkeys April 22, they can reasonably expect an exciting hunt.
A weak fall harvest and mild winter are expected to yield a lot lot of spring gobblers.
“Fall mast last year was spotty and turkeys responded by moving to those food sources, which in some cases meant they moved away from areas frequented by hunters,” said Mary Jo Casalena, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wild turkey biologist, in a statement. “The fall turkey harvest dropped as a consequence. And while that might have been bad news for fall turkey hunters, it’s likely good news for spring turkey hunters because unfilled fall turkey tags typically lead to increased availability in the spring.”
Mild winters are easier for turkeys to survive, and puts the hens on solid ground for spring breeding.
“That should lead to a healthier turkey population and might put gobblers on a timeline to be exceptionally fired up when the season begins,” Casalena said.
During last year’s spring gobbler hunt, 35,966 spring turkeys were taken. That’s a lower harvest than the previous two spring harvests of about 41,200 each, but similar to spring harvests from 2010 through 2013. About 67 percent of turkeys taken in the 2016 spring hunt were adult gobblers, 23 percent were jakes, 2 percent were bearded hens and 7 percent were males of unknown age.
Last year, the Game Commission sold a record 19,796 second spring gobbler tags, a 10 percent increase over the previous record of 18,085 licenses sold in 2014. Second-license sales led to an additional 3,841 extra bearded turkeys being taken last spring, the second-highest total since the license first was offered in 2006.
“Hunters who want to ensure their best opportunity to hunt as many days of the season as they can need to buy the license soon,” Casalena said. “There’s promise for a great season.”
The second spring gobbler license is available for sale only prior to the start of the season, which starts April 29.
Hunter-trapper safety courses
Just a few opportunities remain for new hunters to complete the required state hunter and trapper safety course before spring gobbler season closes May 31. The two-part independent study course includes about four hours of study and six hours of testing in a classroom setting. Testing applicants must be at least 11 years old. Access the online training log and register for testing at www.pgc.state.pa. Click the link leading to Hunter-Trapper Education Safety Classes.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY May 21, 8:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Elizabeth Township Sportsman Association, 1501 Nichols Hill Rd., Elizabeth 15037.
BEAVER COUNTY April 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Center Township Fire Hall No. 2, 108 Grandview Ave., Monaca 15061. May 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Midland Sportsmen’s Club, 142 Eastwood Dr,, Midland 15059. June 3, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Aliquippa Bucktails, 2564 Brodhead Rd., Aliquippa 15001.
WASHINGTON COUNTY April 29, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. McDonald Sportsmen’s Association, 8699 Cooks Rd., McDonald 15057.
WESTMORELAND COUNTY April 22, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Rostraver Sportsmen’s, 559 Cedar Creek Rd., Belle Vernon 15012. April 23, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Murrysville Gun Club, 3751 Gun Club Rd., Murrysville 15668.
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