Wild Turkey Hunting in NH
New Hampshire's spring gobbler season runs May 3-31, with a youth turkey weekend held just prior to the opening of the spring gobbler season. During the spring 2012 season, a total of 3,873 birds were taken statewide.
New Hampshire offers fall turkey hunters a 3-month autumn archery season from September 15 to December 15, as well as a fall shotgun opportunity in many WMUs (Click here for map).
Turkey hunting regulations are also included in the N.H. Hunting Digest (click here and on publication cover).
Did you know? New Hampshire has an estimated 40,000 wild turkeys statewide!
- Spring gobbler season
- Youth Turkey Hunt
- Fall archery and shotgun seasons
- Turkey registration stations -- CLICK HERE for the list and look for the stations that have a "T" for turkey
- New! Turkey virus monitoring
- General turkey hunt info
- May 3 to May 31: Statewide
- Limit: One male or bearded turkey
- Hunting hours: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 12 noon.
- Legal methods: Archery or shotgun (10, 12, 16 or 20 gauge shotgun using 2 or smaller size shot)
- Registration: The fully feathered, intact turkey must be registered and sealed
within 24 hours of the time of taking.
New Hampshire's youth turkey hunt is held statewide on the first weekend prior to May 3. For 2013, the hunt will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, 2013. During the special weekend, youth hunters are allowed to take one male or bearded turkey by archery or shotgun. Youth hunters are required to purchase a turkey license in order to participate, although they do not need to possess a hunting license. Youths must be age 15 or younger, and must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult age 18 or older; the adult may not carry a firearm. The youth turkey hunt weekend has been offered in New Hampshire since 2004. During the 2012 youth weekend, an impressive total of 521 gobblers, or 14.2% of the total spring harvest.
- Read "Turkey Tales" N.H. Wildlife
Journal article about the youth turkey hunt.
2013 Fall Archery Season
One wild turkey of either sex may be taken by archery.
- Sept. 15 - Dec. 15: WMUs B, C1, C2, D1, D2, E, F, G, H1, H2, I1, I2, J1, J2, K, L, M
- Areas CLOSED to fall archery turkey hunting: WMU A
- Limit: One wild turkey, either sex
- Legal methods: Archery only
- Hunting Hours: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
- Registration: The fully feathered, intact turkey must be registered and sealed within 24 hours of the time of taking.
2013 Fall Shotgun Season
New Hampshire has a 5-day fall shotgun season only in WMUs D1, D2, G, H1, H2, I1, I2, J1, J2, K, L, and M. The 2012 fall shotgun turkey season will run Monday through Friday, from October 14-18, 2013.
Purchase of a turkey permit (and a N.H. hunting license for those age 16 - 67) allows the taking of one male turkey during the spring gobbler season AND one male or hen turkey during the fall. Hunters may take only a single turkey during the fall, either with bow and arrow during the archery season, or with a shotgun during the shotgun season. The bird must be tagged with the "fall" tag that comes on the turkey license.
Shooting hours for the fall season will begin one-half hour before sunrise and end one-half hour after sunset. The fully feathered, intact turkey must be registered and sealed within 24 hours of the time of taking.
General Turkey Hunting Info
- For details on seasons, shooting hours, and other rules, please consult the N.H. Hunting and Trapping Digest.
- It is unlawful to
take a turkey with a rifle, dogs, electronic calling devices,
live decoys, or while it is perched in a tree.
- EXCEPTION: Dogs are allowed during the NH fall turkey season only to facilitate the hunter in breaking up the flocks.
- If using a bow, it must be at least a 30-pound-pull bow.
- The name and address of the archer shall be plainly printed on each arrow. Fixed blade broadheads shall not be less than 7/8 inch wide. Retractable blade broadheads may be smaller than 7/8 inch wide in flight, but not less than 7/8 inch wide when open. There is no maximum size restriction on fixed blade or retractable blade broadheads.
- The turkey must be tagged immediately upon killing. Registration is required, and the bird must be fully feathered and intact, but may be gutted. A $2 registration fee is required.
- Companion hunting: A person who has taken a turkey may assist another properly licensed turkey hunter by calling only. The person assisting by calling shall not possess a firearm or bow and arrow.
The turkey license required to hunt turkey in New Hampshire covers both the spring and fall turkey seasons; the price is $16 for residents and $31 for non-residents. In addition to the turkey license, residents also must have a current N.H. hunting, archery or combination license, and nonresidents must have a big game hunting or archery license, depending on their hunting plans.
A Wildlife Restoration Success Story
New Hampshire offers excellent opportunities for hunting wild turkey. This is possible today only because turkeys have made an amazing comeback in New Hampshire. By 1854, the birds had completely disappeared in the state because of habitat loss and market and subsistence hunting. Restoration efforts began in 1975, when Fish and Game released 25 wild turkeys in New Hampshire; careful management based on good science has allowed that initial introduction to grow to more than 40,000 birds today. This population is a true wildlife restoration success story in the Granite State -- thanks to the Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program!
Hens from Gobblers
It is against the law to kill a hen turkey during the spring season (it is legal to take a bearded hen turkey, but hunters are encouraged to pass on bearded hens in order to maximize turkey population growth). Hunters are, therefore, legally obligated to know the difference between hens and gobblers. This skill can be acquired through reading, field observation, watching videos, and attending a turkey hunting seminar.
- The turkey "beard"
is not a reliable indicator of sex. The beard may be broken or obscured
from view. Many males, including jakes (one-year-old males) have
short beards that are difficult to see. Up to 10 percent of hens
will have thin 6- to 8-inch beards. These hens represent a valuable
segment of the turkey nesting population and hunters are urged to
pass on them whenever possible.
- Physical characteristics
can be used to differentiate hens and gobblers. Gobblers have pronounced
red, white and blue head coloration during the spring season. The
white skull cap on the gobbler is distinct, as is the presence of
leg spurs and prominent red wattles on the neck. The body coloration
of a gobbler is distinctly dark, almost black. In contrast, hens
have a smaller, bluish-gray head, lack spurs and prominent wattles,
and are brownish in appearance. Finally, gobblers strut, fan their
tails and gobble; hens do not.
- The sex of a turkey "in hand" is readily determined. Look at a small chest or breast feather. Gobbler feathers are black-tipped, while hen feathers are buff-tipped.
The National Wild Turkey Federation has some good tips on cleaning your turkey once you succeed in getting it. Click here.
- Never stalk a turkey. It rarely works and increases the risk of an accident.
- Never wear red, white or blue or black over- or under-clothing, because these are the prominent colors of displaying gobblers.
- Never call from a tree that is thinner than the width of your shoulders. Small trees won't hide slight movements of your hands or shoulders, which might look like a turkey to another hunter.
- Never jump or turn suddenly in response to a suspected turkey. When turkey hunting, assume that every sound you hear is made by another hunter.
- Never call from a site where you can't see at least 40 yards in all directions.
- Never imitate a gobbler call while concealed in a stand.
- Never presume that what you hear or what responds to your call is a turkey.
- Never think that your camouflage makes you totally invisible. To ID yourself to other hunters, wrap an orange band around a tree.
- Never hide so well that you can't see what's happening around you.
- Never move or wave to alert approaching hunters; shout "stop" instead.