The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

May 25, 2014

Visit the trap range for family fun

The whistle blew. In case you didn’t hear it, it rang shortly after lunch last Saturday. The 2014 spring gobbler season is officially closed. It’s time to pack it in, load up and move on.

To be honest, I’ll miss it. With the crazy weather and late arrival of spring to our hills, it will be interesting to see the harvest numbers for the season and their comparison to more “normal” years. You can place a bet that I’ll keep you posted when the WVDNR announces the final tally.  

For those of us whose belief system allows the hunting of turkeys in the fall, there’s always that turkey season. Depending on the county or counties your hunting grounds fall into, you will be able to enjoy a fall season of either one week, two split weeks, one week and what we old timers call the traditional season of late October into November, or no season at all. The big book of regulations will tell us exactly how long the season will be and what counties are open when they hit the presses this summer. Again, I’ll keep you posted.

To begin the post-gobbler season ritual, I hung my turkey vest on the big nail of hibernation in the basement. I unzipped the gun case and took out my shotgun for the customary wipedown before it hits the rack in the gun safe. But something didn’t feel right — something was off.  With no shots fired this season, the only action the shotgun saw was the loading and unloading of the same three shotshells over and over and over, a little range time was in order. To save my shoulder and my wallet, I opted for some inexpensive target loads and a choke tube with a little less constriction.  

“Get your coat, kids,” I shouted up the stairs. “We’re heading to the trap range.”  

With a truckload of shotguns of all sizes and shapes and with a pallet of target loads, we pointed the truck in the direction of the gun club with the windows down and the radio blasted. I had a simple plan to celebrate the closing of the season with a fitting bang — the bang of shotguns busting little orange, clay disks out of the air.   

On a bright day full of sunshine with puffy little white clouds looking down upon us, we celebrated. We took turns coaching each other back into wingshooting shape after a long hiatus caused by winter’s weather and freezing temperatures. Once warmed up, the Ellis clan lined up on the shooting stations at the 16-yard line and pointed our barrels over the trap house.  

“Pull!” we shouted when it was our turn.  

“Bang!” was heard by all within earshot as the string of lead pellets chased down the clay pigeon as it flew hurriedly toward the skyline.  

After the smoke cleared and our wingshooting itch was scratched, we piled into the truck and headed back home with rosy cheeks from the sun and smiling too much. When we got home, it somehow seemed fitting —  we ate store-bought turkey sandwiches and gave thanks.

I am now officially ready for spring gobbler season next year.

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