Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 10, 2012

Changes in attitudes, changes in turkey season

Years ago, Jimmy Buffet was right when he sang that “nothing remains quite the same.” I had the opportunity to contemplate that philosophy while spending quality time in the woods during West Virginia’s early turkey season in October.

Here on my side of the river we had a fall turkey season that ran from Oct. 13 to Oct. 20 this year.

It came back in on the 29th, in some West Virginia counties, but that opener several weeks ago was the earliest it has been, for awhile.

I only had the chance to turkey hunt one day that week and spent a full eight hours on the front of the Allegheny hunting on the public land.

The fall colors were at eye busting peak, the sky a pale blue and the wind just brisk enough to make me pull the collar up on my jacket, even in the afternoon.

That wind had made the woods a bit crunchy and noisy to walk in, so I really did not see much at all in the way of turkeys, but I did hear something interesting which I will tell you about in a little bit.

 I spent the day thinking about what we are now calling an early season and remembering how it was in the old days.

Back at home that evening I dug into my archive of outdoor stuff (read that as a bunch of dusty old boxes in the basement) and was able to find a set of regulations from 1982. Thought I had some older ones but 30 years is as far back as I could reach.

In the fall of 1982 turkey season came in on Oct. 16, not much later than our so-called early season today. In addition, and some of you are old enough to remember, that was the opening day for squirrel, grouse, archery deer and archery bear. Raccoon season opened that evening at 6 p.m.

Those were the days when the opening day of hunting season was truly that and it was an event of major proportions throughout the state.

Hunters would get up early to be on bow stand in the cool morning, then maybe hunt squirrels and try to bust up a flock of turkeys during midday and afternoon, and then be back on that deer stand or near a turkey roost that evening. Most everyone had the chance to pick up a grouse here or there throughout the day.

People hunted from hoot owl to hoot owl on that Saturday in October that was almost like an official government holiday in West Virginia.

It was an event and it was fun.

Now we do not really have one specific day that we can say is a grand opening for the fall traditions. Seasons are staggered and split and moved around from one year to the next. I am not saying that this is a bad thing, just different.

One definite good thing is obvious from reading those old regulations. In 1982 there were a total of 15 counties in West Virginia that were open to fall turkey hunting. Now, if these old eyes are reading the pastel colors on the turkey map right, there are 36 West Virginia counties that are open to fall turkey hunting in one form or another.

That would be progress in my book.

I do miss the excitement of the old time opening days, but maybe having more than two times as much huntable turkey range in the state today is a pretty decent trade-off for the changing times.

At any rate, to finish my story about the Allegheny, I was sitting on a maple flat about noon, several miles from my truck and clucked one time on a slate call.

That cluck was answered by a quiet gobble off to my right, and then again after the next cluck.

I never did see that bird even though I sat there quite a while longer.

Experienced hunters are well aware it is not that unusual to hear turkeys gobble in the fall. Still it was neat to hear a gobbler answer to my calls in October and served to liven up the day a little.

Seasons come and go, seasons change.

The only thing I know to do for sure is to be out there whenever I can. Maybe the next time that old gobbler will come to those clucks, be it during an early season or a late one.

Dave Long is a retired West Virginia natural resources police officer and a frequent contributor to the Outdoors page.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014

  • Speed cameras Speed cameras

    We’ve never been big fans of speed cameras, primarily for two reasons. First, because the cameras are not always accurate, and secondly because many jurisdictions seem to create revenue by installing cameras and issuing high numbers of speeding tickets.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Group wants status quo on Sunday hunting

    Many Maryland residents have grown very concerned about two legislative bills that are arriving on the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley after being approved by both the Senate and House chambers this session. With the governor’s possible signature of these bills into law, hunting would be allowed on certain state lands on Sundays — a day in the past reserved for rest and non-hunters to enjoy public lands.

    April 10, 2014

  • New policies will grow better streamside buffers

    Well-functioning forest buffers along streams are perhaps the most effective and least costly best management practice we have to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

    April 10, 2014

  • National Day of Prayer events begin April 30

    The Cumberland National Day of Prayer Committee has finalized plans for the 63rd annual observance, with a prayer rally, a breakfast, an outdoor worship ceremony and youth rally planned April 30 through May 2.

    April 9, 2014