Taylor believes it's simply because there are fewer hunters.
"We don't have as many people out there as we used to," he said. "We're an aging population, one of the oldest in the country. We're gradually losing hunters. For every 10 hunters we lose to old age, we gain only eight young hunters. Compared to other states that's a pretty good rate, but overall we're still losing.
"In addition to that, I don't believe hunters are as fired up about turkey hunting as they were a decade or two ago. When we were releasing turkeys [as part of a trap-and-transplant program] and folks were hearing birds gobble in places they hadn't been before, it got a lot of people excited about hunting.
"Once they got out there hunting, though, they found out that calling and killing turkeys was a whole lot more difficult than killing a doe or a buck. I think a fair number of hunters just got discouraged and quit."
All of the state's 55 counties have thriving turkey populations, but hunters' success rates tend to run highest in the Northern Panhandle and in several Ohio River counties. Taylor said, however, that some hunters' desire for solitude might steer them elsewhere.
"There are two ways to look at 'best bets,'" he explained. "I could go to places like the Northern Panhandle or the western counties and hear more birds gobble, but I'd also have to deal with a lot of other hunters.
"On the other hand, I could go to some of the National Forest counties, maybe not hear as many gobblers, but have the place all to myself."
Often overlooked in the mix are the state's southwestern "coalfield" counties, which Taylor described as "really coming on."
"In some of those counties, we're seeing turkeys in areas where we never had them before," he said.
Regardless of where hunters choose to pursue their favorite pastime, Taylor offers the same advice: The more time spent in the woods, the greater the chance of bagging a big old gobbler.
"And if you don't go, it's guaranteed you won't kill one," he added.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.