CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- To many hunters, West Virginia's spring gobbler season ended two weeks ago.
It didn't, of course. In fact, it won't end until Saturday. But don't tell that to the thousands of hunters who quit trying to bag a turkey after the season's first few days.
One of the state's leading turkey authorities has some advice for them - spend the next few days hunting.
"One of my really good friends has hunted spring gobblers for years, and he's kept a diary of his hunts," said Curtis Taylor, wildlife chief for the state Division of Natural Resources. "He always said the last week of the season is the best. I tend to agree with him."
Taylor favors late-season hunting for one overriding reason: The later in the season, the easier gobblers are to kill.
"Are there the same number of gobblers out there? No. By this time of the season, we've already killed a bunch of them," he explained. "But those that remain are still very interested in mating, and most of the hens are unavailable because they're sitting on eggs."
With so few hens available, gobblers become - well - desperate, and much less cautious than they might have been earlier in the season.
And contrary to what many hunters think, gobblers aren't "gobbled out" by late May.
"Back when I was doing radio [telemetry] work on hens, I watched a gobbler breed a hen on the Fourth of July weekend," Taylor said.
"It was an immature hen, and she didn't nest, but the moral of the story is that the gobbler was still interested in breeding weeks after the season was over. If the mating season was over, nobody told him."
Mature gobblers are seldom easy to kill, but late in the season they seem more prone to throw caution to the wind.