Wild Turkey Hunter Survey Results

Methods
In the fall of 2002, the Fish and Game Department conducted a survey of wild turkey hunters in order to assess opinions regarding season considerations and hunter satisfaction. The department turkey management team put together a 13-question mail survey that was sent to 1,000 randomly selected turkey permit holders. Sixty-seven surveys were returned to the department as undeliverable. Of the 933 individuals who received surveys, 330 (35%) returned a completed survey to the department.

Survey Results

Background Statistics: A general knowledge of turkey hunter interests and attributes is often beneficial to management decisionmaking.

Survey results indicate that Grafton, Sullivan, Hillsboro and Merrimack counties serve as the principal turkey hunting counties in New Hampshire. These figures are consistent with turkey permit sales distribution and largely reflect the relative abundance of turkeys in the state.

The majority of survey respondents (76%) have hunted turkeys in New Hampshire for 5 or fewer years. This finding is consistent with department conclusions that turkey hunting is experiencing rapid growth in New Hampshire as reflected by steadily increasing annual permit sales.

Survey results indicate that most (94%) turkey hunters participate in the spring season while 40% participate in the fall archery season. Respondents indicate that 58% of turkey hunters hunt exclusively during the spring season, 4% hunt exclusively during the fall season, and 36% participate in both seasons.

Spring Youth Hunt: The popularity of New Hampshire's deer youth hunting weekend and previous inquiries at public hearings prompted us to include several questions on the survey to assess hunter support for a spring turkey youth hunt weekend.

The majority (84%) of survey respondents either supported (33%) or strongly supported (51%) establishment of a spring turkey youth hunt in New Hampshire. Nine percent of respondents were opposed to a youth hunt. Eighty-two percent of respondents supported allowing adults to call for youth during a youth hunt while 9% were opposed. These results have prompted the department to initiate formulation of a youth hunt proposal for consideration by the Fish and Game Commission.

Hunter Satisfaction: Hunter interference (hunters calling or walking in on birds being worked by another hunter) is considered a useful index of hunting pressure and hunter satisfaction. Thus a series of questions were asked relative to the broad issue of hunter satisfaction.

When asked about turkey hunting quality in New Hampshire, 2% of hunters rated hunting as poor, 28% rated hunting as average, 52% rated hunting as good, and 15% rated hunting as excellent. We consider this a very positive response and are anxious to preserve these high ratings as turkey hunting continues to increase in popularity.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents judged turkey hunting pressure to be light or moderate. Only 8% described pressure as severe. Thirty-nine percent of respondents rated hunter interference as light, 37% as moderate, and 11% as severe. When asked to characterize the trend in hunter interference, 5% said it was decreasing, 51% responded that it was stable, 40% thought it was increasing.

Hunters were asked if they would support or oppose department efforts to reduce interference through the regulation of hunting pressure, if hunter interference were severe where they hunted. Thirty-six percent said they would support or strongly support such efforts, 29% had no opinion, and 32% said they would oppose or strongly oppose such efforts. Clearly this is a controversial issue.

Respondents selected a fall firearms season (47%) as the preferred means of liberalizing turkey harvest, if biologically warranted. Allowances for the taking of a second spring gobbler rated as the second preference (27%), 16% of hunters advocated for no change in our existing project, preferring to err on the side of conservatism, while 8% preferred other methods of liberalization.

Thanks to survey respondents!
Our sincere thanks go out to the 330 turkey hunters who took the time to respond to this survey. We depend on your input to better understand the interests and experiences of our constituents. Unfortunately, a substantial majority of hunters contacted during our annual survey efforts (deer hunter surveys, small game surveys, archery hunter surveys) fail to respond to our request for information. In doing so, they default on an important opportunity to provide valuable management data and to influence department programs.

 

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
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Concord, NH 03301

603-271-3421
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