As the menacing winter season finally fades away and warmer temperatures move into the area, only few things are certain. Taxes are due, baseball is around the corner, and turkey season is imminent.
Youth turkey season will begin for children ages 6 through 12 on Friday, followed by a regular hunting season starting April 15 through May 5.
"It is a family thing here," Darren Hoffman, of Newburg, an avid outdoorsman said of turkey season. "Spring season is the most exciting and only happens once a year."
Many in pursuit of a trophy gobbler get a new chance to find a bigger, more glorious bird with the coming of each season.
"The biggest bird I ever got was 25 pounds with a 10-1/2 inch beard," Hoffman said. "I'm always hoping for that 28-pounder every year."
Many other avid turkey hunters share the same enthusiasm and may be in luck again in 2013.
The Missouri Department of Conservation reports "good news" of an expected increase of 2-year-old gobblers due to an increased number of jakes between 2011 and 2012.
"Missouri's turkey population hasn't experienced two consecutive years of production comparable to 2011 and 2012 in more than a decade," the Department's website reads. "These hatches should bolster turkey numbers throughout much of Missouri."
Local conservation agent Casey Simmons said the late drought actually improved living conditions for young turkeys.
"Though the weather conditions weren't favorable to us, I think the prospects for the season are pretty good," Simmons said.
During the 2012 autumn hunt, Missouri hunters harvested nearly 8,500 turkeys, far below the spring season's average harvest of 45,000.
The Department website adds that Missouri offers "some of the nation's best turkey hunting."
Though there are no managed turkey hunts in Pulaski County, the Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area in Waynesville not only offers abundant fishing, but also offers 178 acres of land available to turkey hunters. While the MDC offers managed hunts throughout the state, the nearest scheduled hunt will take place just south of Lebanon.
There are plenty of regulations during hunting season, including the better known rules prohibiting hunters from using larger than No. 4 shot and any crossbow-type weapon.
Other limitations include the prohibition of feeding up to ten days after bait removal and non-use of recorded turkey calls, among others.
Though hunting is considered the "most effective population management tool," these regulations help prevent over harvesting.
"The reason for the regulations is to preserve the population at a healthy level," Simmons said. "It's our job to protect the population of all game wildlife."
Most hunters agree with the season's regulations, which help regulate not only the turkey population, but also the overall wildlife population.
Page 2 of 2 - "I like [the regulations], but I wish you could kill two birds the same day if you have the chance," Hoffman said. "One day you see birds, but the next you don't."
But that's the challenge of turkey hunting season.
For a full description of the spring turkey season and its regulations, visit mdc.mo.gov