The statewide spring hunting season for wild turkeys — male or bearded turkeys only — runs April 11 through May 9. A youth-only turkey hunting season is April 4-10. The Wildlife Commission will use samples to study the distribution of lympho proliferative disease virus (LPDV). Wild turkeys that carry the virus may exhibit outward signs similar to those of avian pox, including nodules around the head and feet, weakness, lethargy and disorientation. There is no evidence LPDV poses a threat to human health, but hunters should wear latex gloves and eye protection when dressing any wild game, including wild turkey, and avoid getting fluids around eyes, nose, mouth or open cuts.
The virus was first recognized in domestic turkeys in the United Kingdom in 1972 and later in domestic turkeys in Europe and Asia. The first documented cases of the virus in North America occurred in wild turkeys in 2009. It has since been found throughout the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. In North Carolina, there have been six documented cases of wild turkeys exhibiting symptoms. Diagnostic testing in 2013 of more than 200 hunter-killed turkeys that were not exhibiting symptoms revealed that many of these birds had been exposed to the disease previously. This year, the Wildlife Commission plans to collect and test samples from 500 hunter-killed wild turkeys to determine the prevalence rate and distribution of the virus in North Carolina.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will close the Wayne E. Smith Shooting Range on Cold Mountain Game Land in Haywood County April 13-17 for routine maintenance and repairs. Commission staff closes the range for one week each spring to clean the grounds, shore the backstop, grade the shooting lanes, and then seed, fertilize and lime the lanes. Staff also will repair and grade the parking area and entrance road, as well as repair or replace shooting benches as needed. The range is scheduled to reopen on April 18.
This is a very popular range with folks in our region, despite it being nearly one hour from Asheville. The Wildlife Commission does not staff the Wayne E. Smith Shooting Range, but it is open to the public free of charge during daylight hours Monday through Saturday. Shooters are allowed to use pistols, rifles, shotguns and muzzleloaders on the range, which features five shooting lanes. The range is located near Waynesville in Haywood County, about two miles past Lake Logan off of Hwy 215, when traveling from Hwy 276. GPS coordinates are:-82 56.385, 35 22.841.
Our next installment to get you ready for sporting clays this Spring is draw length as part of the Ready Position. Draw length is simply how far the butt of the shotgun is from the pocket of the shooting shoulder. When we start with a novice we typically recommend started with the gun pre-mounted. By doing so the new shooter can focus on some of the other fundamentals that are more important. In sporting clays competition you can start with the gun pre-mounted on the butt lowered. To a certain degree it depends on personal choice but it can also be a factor in target acquisition.
If a pre-mounted gun causes you to lose sight of the target in your periphery then lower the butt slightly below the shoulder keeping the barrel along the line of flight as previously discussed. There are times when you want the gun below the shoulder, as when you have a high incoming target. This way you can have your muzzle up/butt down to watch the flight of the target and intercept it as it reaches its apex. You do not want to track an incoming bird along its entire path or you lose target focus. Now let’s put this to practice and bust some targets!