2012 N.H. Fall Turkey Hunt Outlook

wild turkey displaying

By Ted Walski, Turkey Project Biologist
It's hard to believe, but prior to 1975, there were no wild turkeys in New Hampshire for many years. Today, thanks to a restoration effort initiated by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department in 1975, there are over 40,000 turkeys in the Granite State!

Current turkey hunting seasons include a 29-day spring season, a 3-month archery season, and a 5-day fall shotgun season. All seasons are carefully regulated to ensure the continued healthy presence of wild turkeys in New Hampshire for our benefit and that of future generations.

The turkey archery season is concurrent with the long deer archery season of September 15-December 15. Only Wildlife Management Unit A in northern New Hampshire is closed to archery turkey hunting in the fall.

The fall shotgun season for turkeys will take place October 15-19, 2012. Of the 18 Wildlife Management Units in the state, 12 are open and only 6 units in Coos County and some areas of the White Mountains are closed for this hunt.

Brood survey update: The early summer 2012 wild turkey brood survey indicated a favorable hatch, which will add a significant number of turkeys to the fall population. A sample of 35 broods of young turkeys during May/June yielded an average of 6.7 poults per hen. A majority of the hatch occurred during May, because the mildest winter in 40 years stimulated early green-up and nesting.

Good outlook for fall: Numerous observations have come in during September and October of abundant turkey flocks throughout the state. All this means there should be some good opportunity for turkey hunting in New Hampshire this fall. With the virtual absence this year of beechnuts, wild apples and other small fruits, turkeys are more likely to be found in fields rather than in the dense woods.

Licenses: The cost of a resident turkey hunting license for the calendar year is $16. This enables a hunter to harvest a gobbler during the spring season, and one turkey, male or female, during either the fall archery or shotgun season. A regular hunting license for $22 or an archery license for $22 is also needed. Youth hunters are reminded that they do require a turkey license.

Spring gobbler harvest: During the spring 2012 gobbler season, a total of 3,873 turkeys were taken. More of the statewide harvest during the past several years has shifted to the eastern half of New Hampshire. Units J2, L and M encompass most of Rockingham, Strafford and Belknap Counties. Unit K, which is most of Hillsboro County, had the highest turkey harvest.

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