WMAs Offer Great Spring Gobbler Hunting Opportunities
DGIF manages numerous Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) covering hundreds of thousands acres across the state. Most all of them support flocks of wild turkeys, but we checked with the local WMA managers and wildlife biologists to give you a heads up on where some of the best opportunities can be found.
For the Southside Piedmont Region, Dan Lovelace, District Wildlife Biologist recommends White Oak Mountain and Fairystone Farms WMAs commenting, “These two areas have good access and are fairly easy to traverse especially with young, novice hunters.” Dan continues, “Good sized flocks of turkeys have been observed in these areas and production has been good the past few springs. While the early warm weather has gobblers strutting and gobbling, this has also brought out the ticks and chiggers, so be sure and apply insect repellent before heading into the fields and forests.”
In the mountains and Shenandoah Valley there are excellent opportunities for hunting on public lands. District Wildlife Biologist, Al Bourgeois notes that, “The Walker Mountain area of the George Washington National Forest and WMAs in the region have excellent turkey populations due to the development of prime habitat made possible through partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation Super Fund Habitat Restoration Project grant funds. Several WMAs in the region offer great turkey hunting for both accomplished and novice turkey hunters including: Gathright, Highland, Little North Mountain and Short Hills.”
The Tidewater region also boasts good turkey habitat and hunting opportunities on most of the WMAs according to Matt Kline, Regional WMA Supervisor. Matt notes, “The Big Woods WMA in Sussex and the adjoining State Forest have good turkey populations due to stewardship forest management practices like prescribed burning that enhance habitat for a variety of species. The Chickahominy and Cavalier WMAs also offer good turkey hunting, but are best early season before the ticks and mosquitoes become a distraction and dense foliage hinders sight and movement. Remember the insect repellent!”
In the Great Southwest, turkey hunting among youth has increased greatly in recent years due to the dedicated efforts of Conservation Police Officers (CPOs), DGIF staff and volunteers with the NWTF JAKES program. CPO Sgt. Jamie Davis is one of these mentors dedicated to sponsor special events throughout the year to work with youth to sharpen their hunting skills and focus on safety and ethics to pass on our hunting heritage and traditions to a new generation. Sgt. Davis notes that, “Clinch Mountain WMA is an excellent area to take youngsters due to the abundance of wildlife on one of the largest management areas in the state. Safety is the first priority and there is plenty of room to locate a gobbler and stay away from other hunters. The turkey population has been on the increase due to increasing habitat management and food plot plantings. This is a beautiful area that summits above 4,000 feet that provides an opportunity for our young hunters to experience a hunt of a life time.”
Tom Hampton, Southwest Regional Lands and Facilities Manager, adds that both Crooked Creek and Clinch Mountain WMAs have good turkey hunting. As a bonus Clinch Mountain has barrier free trails for mobility impaired sportsmen.
Be sure and review the spring turkey regulations and practice safety measures. Always be sure of your target and beyond.