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Kentucky's spring turkey gobbler season is on

By STEVE VANTREESE outdoors@paducahsun.com

A lot of that turkey talk out there today is man-made.

This is opening day of Kentucky's spring turkey hunting season. Thousands of hunters statewide are taking to the woods and fields today, most with the intentions of yelping and purring out enough supposedly alluring hen sounds to attract the advances of a turkey gobbler.

The annual spring season kicks in on the Saturday nearest April 15, which happens to be the exact date with the 2017 calendar. The 23-day season encompasses four weekends -- maximizing opportunities for many hunters -- and running through Sunday, May 7.

Regulations are unchanged for this season, including the bag limit of two male or bearded turkeys on a standard spring turkey permit. As always, however, no more than one turkey can be taken on a single day of hunting.

It bears repeating that some things are expressly prohibited during the turkey season.

It's OK to shoot a turkey from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, the legal shooting hours, but never when it is on the roost. It's illegal to shoot a gobbler perched up in a tree where it spends the night, no matter what time it is.

A dog cannot be used to hunt turkeys during the spring season.

Live decoys cannot be used. If you've got a domesticated turkey ally, don't take her hunting.

Electronic turkey calls are prohibited. Mouth-blown or friction calls are fine, but no electronic or digital calling devices are allowed.

A big one among prohibitions is no hunting over bait. This is defined as hunting in an area where grain, feed or other substances attractive to turkeys have been placed and exist for other than the result of legitimate agricultural practice. This can be tricky, too, because an area is considered baited for 30 days after one of these attractants is removed.

Turkey hunting this weekend in the Land Between the Lakes still is restricted to those who have applied and been drawn for permits to take part in quota hunts. The second of two regular quota turkey hunts in the LBL is today and Sunday.

Non-quota turkey hunting in the LBL, that for which no prior application nor being drawn is required, begins Monday. The federal public area is open to non-quota gobbler hunting for two weeks, April 17-30.

â ¢ Trigg County High School's student archers have done it again, as the school's squad won the high school team competition at the recent National Archery in the Schools Program state tournament. The 2017 state competition, which drew more than 6,000 student archers from 295 Kentucky schools, marked Trigg County High School's fifth team victory in the past six years.

The state tournament was at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. The state event was a forerunner to the NASP Nationals tournament that will be right back in the Kentucky Exposition Center on May 11-13.

â ¢ Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources enforcement actions and sentencing in Martin District Court of Martin County show little toleration for illegal guide activities leading to the illegal taking of elk.

Byron Delong, of Pilgrim, recently pleaded guilty after investigating KDFWR conservation officers charged him with guiding elk hunters without a commercial guide's license, assisting an elk hunter to illegally hunt over bait and assisting an elk hunter with an at-large elk permit to hunt in a limited entry area.

Martin District Court ordered Delong to pay $5,000 in fines, $2,718.36 in restitution for an illegally killed cow elk (taken over bait), plus $163 in court costs. Delong also was slapped with a 60-day jail sentence, although that was probated.

Col. Rodney Coffey, KDFWR law enforcement director, noted that Kentucky marks the 20-year anniversary of restoring free-ranging elk to east Kentucky this year, and those elk now represent the largest population east of the Rocky Mountains.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.

â ¢ Illinois hunters are engaged in the spring turkey season now and through May 4 in the state's southern turkey hunting zone. But deer hunters might be thinking toward opportunities in the autumn.

Resident Illinois deer hunters -- residents only, mind you -- can apply through April 30 for the first lottery drawing for 2017 Illinois firearm and muzzleloader-only deer season permits. Illinois hunters who seek these permits should apply online through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website, www.dnr.illinois.gov.

Illinois firearm deer hunting seasons will be Nov. 17-19 and Nov. 30-Dec. 3 this year. The muzzleloader-only permits can be used during the Nov. 30-Dec. 3 firearms hunt and for the Dec. 8-10 muzzleloader season.

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