Turkey hunting is serious business this weekend, but it's kid stuff, too.
There's no sense why youngsters can't take gobbler hunting seriously, and today and Sunday is their chance without competition from older hunters. Indeed, April 5-6 is Kentucky's annual youth turkey hunting season, an early shotgun (or muzzleloading shotgun, bow or crossbow) hunt open to kids 15 and younger.
It's the first spring go at turkey gobblers. The regular spring gobbler season starts next weekend, running April 12-May 4 for hunters of all ages.
This weekend's youth season allows juniors to hunt, provided each is accompanied by an adult (18 or older) who must stay in position to take control of the kid hunter's weaponry. The accompanying adult cannot hunt in the shooting sense, but the older supervisor can call for the youngster and assist in other manners.
Kid hunters ages 12-15 must have a junior hunting license and a junior (or regular) spring turkey permit. The junior license and permit come cheaper. The junior hunter also is required to have completed and be certified from an approved hunter education course â “ or have the one-time hunter education exemption, available from license vendors for $5.
Hunters younger than 12 are exempted from hunter education, license and permit requirements.
The bag limit for the youth turkey season is the same as adults. The seasonal limit is two turkeys with visible beards.
A hunter may not take more than one turkey in a day's time. Each turkey taken, too, must be reported to Telecheck, the bird registered via the toll-free, call-in information system at 1-800-CHK-GAME or 1-800-245-4263.
It is illegal for any hunter â “ youth or adult â “ to hunt turkeys over bait such as grain that has been placed in the hunting habitat. Where bait has been placed and removed, the site still is considered baited (and illegal to hunt turkeys there) for 30 days after the bait has been taken away.
Those adults who are calling for youngsters this weekend should remember that, once the youth season ends, the prohibition on the use of turkey calls in hunting territory goes back on until the regular gobbler season begins April 12.
n The River-to-River Trail Society will host a free guided hike today in the Max Creek area of southern Illinois' Johnson County. Participants are meeting at 10 a.m. at the Tunnel Hill School on U.S. 45 between Ozark and Vienna.
The trek, for hikers with some level of experience, is being led by Brian DeNeal.
Other April hikes scheduled by the River-to-River Trail Society include an April 12 jaunt of the Buttermilk Hill Trail at Kincaid Lake in Jackson County. It will be led by Rick Steudel. Hikers for this outing will meet at 10 a.m. on that date at the Buttermilk Hill Trailhead, 2 miles northeast of the turn-off from Rt. 3 onto Buttermilk Hill Road. That turn-off is 2.5 miles west of the intersection of Rt. 3 and Rt. 149, nine miles west of Murphysboro.
April 26 brings a hike at Hayes Creek in Pope County, led by Eric Johnson. Hikers on this walk will meet at 10 a.m. on that date at the Shawnee Mart along Rt. 145 at Eddyville.
More information: Gillum Ferguson, 630-357-9651.
n A Land Between the Lakes naturalist will lead a free guided hike of the Empire Point area beginning at 11 a.m. today. Participants should meet at the Woodlands Nature Station in preparation for a half-mile walk around open fields, woods and Lake Barkley shoreline in search of critters and birds within a portion of the Nature Watch Area.
Those taking part should wear comfortable hiking shoes and long pants. Phone 270-924-2299 for directions.
A program at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Nature Station will introduce visitors to a variety of cold-blooded residents. Naturalists will offer the chance for visitors to get up close and personal with snakes, salamanders and turtles. The program is free with paid admission to the Nature Station.
n Your live baitfish need to be "locals." Fishermen are reminded that new this year is a regulation that prohibits relocating live bait in the form of shad, skipjack herring â ¦ or Asian carp.
The rule actually says that Asian carp, shad and skipjack can only be used as live bait in the waters where they were collected. At issue is the possible spread of Asian carp to places they haven't already occupied.
The spread of native shad or skipjack is not a problem so much as the possibility of juvenile Asian carp being mistaken for shad or skipjack and the exotic carp being spread in this manner. Regardless, anglers who want to use shad or small skipjack â “ or even juvenile Asian carp â “ as live bait should plan on catching their bait in the same place they intend to fish.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. E-mail outdoors news items to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 270-575-8650.