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Nearly time to hunt the bird

Most avid hunters know the coming of April and spring also brings the start of Missouri’s first hunting season, the spring turkey season. Missouri’s youth-only portion of spring turkey season is this Saturday and Sunday, April 09-10.

The regular spring firearms turkey season runs from Monday, April 18 through Sunday, May 08. St. Francois County Conservation Agent Darin Pettit would like to take the opportunity to refresh hunters on the do’s and do not’s to make the spring turkey season a safe, legal, and successful one.

Participants in this weekend’s youth season must be between the ages of 6-15. Each hunter must have either a youth deer and turkey permit or a resident spring turkey permit. The youth permit is designed for children who have not participated in a certified Hunter Education Program.

To hunt on this permit, children must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult who has completed the hunter education program. Children who have taken hunter education may purchase a regular spring firearms turkey permit to hunt on. If a hunter does not harvest a turkey during the youth season, the permit that they hold is valid and can be used during the spring firearms turkey season.

Participants in the spring firearms turkey season must have a valid spring turkey hunting permit or qualify for landowner privileges to hunt.

Other rules to remember for both hunts include:

€ Shooting hours are from ? hour before sunrise to 1:00 pm CST.

€ The season limit is two male turkeys or turkeys with visible beards as long as one turkey is harvested during the first week (April 18-24) and/or one turkey is harvested daily during the latter two weeks until both birds are harvested.

€ Shotguns cannot be capable of holding more than three shells at one time and shot larger than #4 cannot be used or possessed.

€ Harvested turkeys must be immediately tagged and checked at an official wildlife check station on the day taken by the hunter who killed the game.

Check Station hours are from 7:00 am through 3:00 pm CST or for the first time hunters may utilize the telecheck system. After a bird is harvested call the number listed on the permit to check the bird electronically.

€ Any bait must be totally removed 10 days prior to hunting otherwise the property is considered baited.

€ “Be Safe” stickers must be attached to the firearm while hunting.

Turkey season for conservation agents often consists of working countless hours each and every morning staying after poachers illegally harvesting birds either before or during season … often times over bait. The practice of placing bait on property does not allow for fair chase and is an illegal method. Baited spots take away harvest opportunities from each and every person who is hunting legally, rather it be on private property or public land.

The bait attracts and draws animals off of other people’s property thus decreasing surrounding landowner’s chances for harvest of wildlife. An example of this might be if a landowner has historically or often times seen a flock of turkeys in a given location on his/her property but has not seen them lately, there is a good chance some surrounding property has bait placed on it. These animals will keep going back to a food source until it is gone. When season starts people who hunt over such places have an unfair advantage over the other hunters.

There are a couple of different ways to report poaching violations. The first would be contact the local conservation agent. Pettit’s phone number is 573-756-6872. You can also contact the local sheriff’s department or police agency. Another effective method to report violators is the Operation Game Thief Program. This program allows for people to report poaching to the Missouri Department of Conservation office and have the option of remaining anonymous.

By dialing 1-800-392-1111 people can call and give information without ever giving up their name or phone number. This process also allows cash rewards to be given to individuals who report violations when arrests are made. No matter which method is used, the important thing is that the violation is reported.

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