When the 2012 youth turkey spring weekend season opens on Saturday March 31, it will mark the 12th year for youngsters age 6 through 15 to have an opportunity to bag a gobbler.

When the 2012 youth turkey spring weekend season opens on Saturday March 31, it will mark the 12th year for youngsters age 6 through 15 to have an opportunity to bag a gobbler.

For the past two years, the young hunters found the weather just right for opening day. Sunny days and little wind made conditions right for gobbler activity, and last year the youngsters took 3,898 bearded birds, nearly the same as in 2010 when they harvested 3,945 turkeys.

After a mild winter and early spring this year, hunters should see a lot of activity on opening day.

The weekend limit for the youth hunt is one turkey with a beard, and successful hunters who take a bird during the weekend youth hunt may not take another bird until April 23 because the first bird will count as the first turkey taken during the first week of the regular season.

Unlike a 1 p.m. daily end of hunting during the regular season, the young hunters have a half hour before sunrise to sunset to bag a bird.

A good nesting last year should result in hunters seeing more jakes than in the past several years, however, the poor nesting of turkeys in the three prior years will make finding mature gobblers harder to find. But Missouri is still one of the top turkey hunting states in the nation and turkey hunters this spring can expect some good hunting, although not likely as good as it was back in the ’80s when turkey production was high with birds taking advantage of vacant and prime habitat.

The numbers of wild turkeys in the state may not reach those of the ’80s, but with a few years of good nesting success like last year, there will be an increase of available big birds to challenge hunters.

Jack Ross, Independence, said, “I remember back in 1960 when the first modern day turkey season opened, there were less than a thousand hunters and less than a hundred birds taken. We have come a long way since then and it’s all been good. Now there are wild turkeys in every county and a lot more turkey hunters. I know that turkey hunting can be a challenge as well as an addiction. I am glad to see a special youth weekend hunt because it will help our youngsters experience what I consider the best hunting anywhere.”

For more information on all the regulations of spring turkey hunting, check out the Missouri Department of Conservation’s booklet on 2012 spring turkeys.