Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

March 10, 2012

Let’s get ready to gobble!

The thing I hate about Leap Year is that it makes for one more day that you have to wait until spring gobbler season opens.

I mean how many times can I count my shells, make sure I still cannot master a mouth call and check the closet to see if anybody has stolen my hunting vest?

I can’t help it. Hunting gobblers is what I like.

A lot. Last year I hunted 23 days in two states.

I know I’m probably repeating myself here, but you’ll have that when a guy does 1,500 or so of these columns.

One of the very best attributes of spring gobbler season is that it gets warmer rather than colder as the season progresses, though the weather in some years has challenged that postulate.

Not only does the clime climb, but the woods itself modifies, going from something akin to a winter setting on opening day to a lazy, hazy, crazy day of summer when the action stops in late May.

It’s a long shot, I know, but I am hoping for my first three-gobbler license year in Maryland. I can hope for that because I got a nice 2-year-old, 19-pound longbeard in November and because it has been legal for a couple years to kill one turkey in the fall and two bearded birds the following spring.

Hope springs eternal, especially hope in the spring.

I try to be realistic, yet hopeful. My goal each season is to take one gobbler. Once that bird is tagged, my hope is for a second bird, etc.

I plan to take afield the old family Ithaca Model 37, you know, the shotgun that kills on one end and cripples on the other. No recoil pad on that old mule. Tuck down nice and tight on the old stock and let ‘er fly.

I got my first spring gobbler with that long-barreled 12 gauge, a bird with 1.25-inch, needle sharp spurs in 1988 near McCoole. Checked it in at the Rawlings General Store, owned and operated at that time by Wally and Eileen Mahle. Wally, a former Green Bay Packer, died in 2008.

And the old store, a Rawlings fixture for a long time across the street from the post office, has since been razed.

Don’t forget that there are two Sundays this spring when we can hunt for gobblers in Allegany and Garrett counties, and that includes public as well as private lands. They are April 29 and May 6.

There were 287 spring gobblers bagged in Allegany County a year ago, but that was down from the take in 2010 of 327. There were 339 bearded birds killed in Garrett County in 2011 and 345 in 2010.

Although more gobblers have been killed annually in Garrett than in Allegany, the harvest in Allegany County is greater per square mile.

There are at least 30,000 turkeys in Maryland, according to the Wildlife & Heritage Service.

The Maryland season is April 18 through May 23. From May 10 through the end of the season, gobblers may be hunted from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. There is a noon stop time for hunting April 18 through May 9.

The West Virginia season takes place April 23 through May 19.

Hunters in both states have been relatively accident free in recent years. This would be a good spring to continue that tradition. Protect yourself and others this season.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at

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Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
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