Hold off on your Black Hills turkey hunt

If you already tried to get a turkey on opening day in the Black Hills, you probably already know what I’m about to say. If you haven’t gotten out there yet, you might want to delay your trip.

Spring turkey hunting is always messy. But this year, it might be the messiest spring yet, at least in the Black Hills.

The Game and Fish is urging hunters to hold off on heading for the hills this year. There’s still plenty of turkey season left, so delaying your hunt shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The season opened yesterday, but it stays open until May 20. So if you wait out the weather a little bit, there’ll still be plenty of time to hunt.

Besides, if you go out now, you’ll probably get muddy, cold and wet for no reason. On my trip through the Black Hills over the weekend, I saw a lot of turkeys, but none of them were showing any signs of wanting to get romantic. They seemed to be a lot more interested in just staying warm. They might have already gone through the first peak of the breeding season, but generally another one follows after the spring snows melt off. That second peak is normally around the second week of May.

Other turkey areas around the state might be a little more conducive to turkey hunting. Quite a few folks have already had luck in the areas that opened on April Fool’s Day, though I did hear from several who needed some help getting out of the mud and snow before they could take their turkeys home. This has been a booger of a spring in the wilder portions of the state, and the roads and trails are still gunked up because of it.

Don’t be disappointed if you can’t get into the Black Hills for a little longer. The birds should catch their second wind in a few weeks, and by then, the weather should be a little more predictable. You might be able to get a turkey without also catching pneumonia.