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
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
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