March 27, 2008

Youth Turkey Season To Feature Opportunity For All-Day Hunting

Young hunters will have nearly twice as much time to hunt during Missouriís 2008 Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Season, thanks to a regulation change approved by the Conservation Commission in December.

Like previous Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Seasons, this yearís youth season is two days long - April 12 and 13. Unlike previous youth seasons, shooting hours this year are from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset Central Daylight Savings Time.

Shooting hours for the youth season previously ended at 1 p.m. That remains the ending time during the regular spring turkey hunting season.

The time extension during the youth season is intended to increase opportunities for hunters age 15 and younger. Resource Scientist Tom Dailey with the Missouri Department of Conservation said the extension will not noticeably affect the stateís turkey population and should increase youth interest in hunting.

ďOther statesí experience leads us to believe that allowing hunters to pursue turkeys throughout the daylight hours will not noticeably affect hen nest success or cause adult male turkeys to gobble less,Ē said Dailey. ďAll-day hunting for the youth weekend will allow Missourians to get a taste of something that is practiced across the country. An increasing number of Missouri hunters are expressing interest in all-day spring turkey hunting, and our surveys of turkey hunters show that the majority want all-day hunting. If and when we decide to recommend all-day hunting for the regular spring season, public input on the subject will be critical.Ē

Another way citizens can contribute to the decision-making process is by participating in the Conservation Departmentís ďGobbleteerĒ turkey gobbling study. Dailey said the study is designed to document gobbling activity under current hunting regulations. Last year 400 volunteers participated in the study by listening for gobbling before sunrise two mornings per week from mid-March through early May. He said volunteers need to sign up as soon as possible in order to take part this year.

To become a Gobbleteer, visit www.mdc.mo.gov, and click on ďBe a Gobble Count Volunteer.Ē Participants will automatically be entered in a drawing for their choice of a lifetime hunting permit or a shotgun.

Resident youths can hunt in the youth season with any of three permits. The Youth Deer and Turkey Hunting Permit is for resident hunters age 6 through 15. Hunting with this permit requires youths to be in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult who has a valid hunter education certificate card.

Youth age 11 to 15 also can hunt with a Resident Spring Turkey Hunting permit. They must be hunter-education certified to purchase this permit.

A Resident Landowner Spring Turkey Hunting Permit also is valid during the youth season for hunters age 15 and younger who are immediate household members of resident landowners or qualifying lessees. These permits are valid only on the land for which they are issued.

The number of turkeys taken during the youth season - between 3,500 and 3,900 in recent years - is small compared to the regular-season harvest of 48,000 to 57,000. The fun youths experience in those two days is big, however. The youth season allows adult hunters to focus exclusively on teaching youngsters hunting skills, safety and ethics.

Adults who want to mentor new hunters have another new opportunity this year, thanks to the Apprentice Hunter Authorization. The $10 annual authorization allows hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1967 to buy hunting permits for two consecutive permit years without hunter-education certification.

The Apprentice Hunter Authorization is available to residents and nonresidents 16 and older. People hunting under the authorization must hunt in the immediate presence of a licensed hunter age 21 or older. Mentors must be hunter-education certified and must be close enough for normal conversation, without shouting.

Missouriís regular spring turkey hunting season runs from April 21 through May 11. Details of both seasons are contained in the 2008 Spring Turkey Hunting Information booklet, which is available wherever hunting permits are sold. The same information is available at mdc.mo.gov/hunt/turkey/sprturk/.

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