by Norman Steelman
Turkey season is just around the corner. Few changes have been done to the season which starts with youth season on the weekend of April 6 and April 7.
During the youth season, hunters may pursue turkeys all day, a half hour prior to sunrise to sunset. Please remember the youth season is counted as being in the first week of the season.
Regular season starts on April 15 and last through May 5. Shooting hours are from a half hour prior to sunrise to 1 p.m. Permits valid for the season are resident spring turkey hunting permit, resident landowner spring turkey hunting permit, and nonresident spring turkey hunting permit. Landowner permits are valid only for the land which the permit was issued for. Please remember landowner tags are only valid when someone in the household which you are a resident in either owns 5 acres or more, or your residence is on at least 5 or more leased acres. The residence must be on the leased acreage and the acreage which maybe claimed is only continuous acreage from the residence acreage. Two male turkeys, or turkeys with a visible beard maybe taken during the season, except, only one turkey maybe taken during the first week of the season, which is April 15-21, remember, youth season, is considered part of the first week of the season. If you do not take a turkey during the first week, you may take two turkeys during the second or third week, but may not take them on the same day.
During the season, youth age 6-15 do not have to have hunter education, but if they do not have hunter education they must hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult over the age of 18. The youth must be capable of holding, aiming and shooting the firearm by themselves. The adult hunting with the youth must be either hunter education certified or born before January 1, 1967. Landowner exemption does not apply to the adults accompanying a youth hunter. Immediate presence means close enough for normal conversation, without shouting and properly licensed means a valid filled or unfilled spring turkey hunting permit.
Methods allowed during the spring firearms turkey hunting season are a shotgun with shot not larger than No. 4, and a longbow or compound bow. Handheld string releasing devices, illuminated sights, scopes and quick point sights are allowed.Prohibited methods are shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells in magazine and chamber combined, shot larger than No. 4 (in use or in possession), a bow fastened to a stock or other device that maintains the bow in a drawn position (crossbow), any sighting device that casts a beam of light on the game, thermal imagery equipment or night vision equipment (in use or in possession), recorded calls (in use or in possession), the use of dogs or live decoys, the use of bait, which includes grain or other feed placed or scattered so as to attract turkeys. An area is considered baited for 10 days even after the complete removal of the bait. A hunter can be in violation even if he or she did not know an area was or is baited. It is also illegal to place bait in a way that causes others to be in violation of the baiting rule. Any hunter who kills or injures a turkey must make a reasonable effort to retrieve and include it in their season limit, but this does not authorize trespass. It is a violation to wantonly leave, abandon or waste commonly edible portions of game.
Please remember the old peal and stick tags are gone. The new tags are now the nonstick tags. When a bird is harvested, the hunter must notch the month and date which the bird was taken. The tag then must be attached to the bird for transportation. Anyone using a turkey call to assist a hunter must be properly licensed with either a filled or unfilled spring turkey hunting permit. Due to the changes with tags, the yellow “Be Safe” sticker is no longer needed on a shotgun. It cannot reasonably be printed on a home printer then be put on a shotgun.
Missouri has gone online with the permit system as well and from your house you can print a valid permit. Stores which you purchased permits will still offer permits for sale as well. To purchase an online permit, please go to the Http://www.missouriconservation.org. A one dollar surcharge is assessed as a convenience fee for purchasing permits online. This charge is assessed once for all permits purchased in a transaction. I usually hear that there are fewer turkeys than year’s past. Fortunately, for the last two years we have experienced good hatch years for turkeys after seeing poor hatches from 2007-2010. With more two year old birds which like to gobble in the woods this year, a hunter’s chance at being able to get on a bird should be higher than the past seasons.
Please have a good and safe turkey season. If a hunting incident does occur during the season, please notify your local conservation agent or the sheriff’s department and render aid to the individual injured. Leaving the scene of a hunting incident is a crime. If you have any wildlife related questions or information, please call me, Norman Steelman Audrain County Conservation Agent at 573-473-8000. You may also call the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-392-1111 if you have information regarding a violation of the Missouri Wildlife Code. You may remain anonymous, and you may ask to be considered for a reward if you wish.