Ted Walski: (603) 352-9669
Mark Ellingwood: (603) 271-2461
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
April 9, 2007
Promising Outlook for New Hampshire Spring Turkey Hunt
CONCORD, N.H. -- A successful 2007 spring gobbler season is shaping up for New Hampshire hunters. The state's spring turkey hunt runs from May 3 through May 31, with a youth weekend just prior, set for April 28-29.
Last year (2006), a total of 3,559 turkeys were harvested from 223 towns during the New Hampshire spring turkey season and youth turkey weekend. This was a 17% increase over the harvest of 2005 and a new state record.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department wildlife biologist and turkey project leader Ted Walski predicts the spring 2007 harvest could be as good as the record 2006 harvest, or perhaps even better. Walski reported encountering 18 large turkey flocks with 50 to 100 turkeys in each, observed while he was performing surveys of deer wintering areas in towns from four western New Hampshire counties in February of 2007. Walski also has observed numerous smaller flocks throughout the relatively easy 2006-2007 winter.
"Turkeys this year enjoyed a fourth winter with relatively good conditions," Walski said. Favorable conditions included the fact that the ground was not snow-covered until mid-February, and in recent weeks, strong sunshine has created a hard crust on the snow that turkeys can walk on, as well as areas of bare ground on steep southerly slopes. "Turkeys have been displaying and gobbling virtually every week of the winter, especially during late February and early March," Walski said.
Turkey hunting is gaining in popularity in New Hampshire. During 2006, hunters purchased a total of 19,627 turkey permits, in addition to 824 fall shotgun permits. In 1980, the first year turkey hunting season was offered in New Hampshire in modern times, just over 700 permit holders harvested 31 turkeys. The graphs posted on this page illustrate how annual turkey permit sales, turkey harvest and turkey populations have increased over the years.
The return of wild turkeys to New Hampshire is a true wildlife restoration success story, funded through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration program. Turkeys had completely disappeared from the state for more than a century until N.H. Fish and Game released 25 birds in 1975. The Department has managed the population through science-based research since that time, guided in recent years by 10-year Big Game Management Plans.
The statewide population estimate as of August 2006 was 33,000 wild turkeys. Turkey numbers continue to show annual growth in northern and eastern areas of the state. Productivity for summer 2006 was below the long-term average because of record rains.
A New Hampshire hunting license and $6 turkey permit are required for all hunters 16 years and older. Youth hunters (hunters 15 years old or less) require a $6 turkey permit, but don't need a hunting license. (Hunters under age 16 always must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult 18 or older.) Hunters can buy their license and permit online at http://www.HuntNH.com or from license agents statewide.
For more information on turkey hunting in New Hampshire, including regulations for the 2007 hunt, click here.
All hunters should keep in mind some basic safety tips when turkey hunting: Always positively identify your target. Never assume that calls and movement indicate the presence of a turkey -- hunters commonly imitate turkey calls and use decoys in order to locate and/or attract turkeys! Never stalk a turkey, you could be mistaken for game -- rather than stalking, scout out a good spot, call and wait for the turkeys to come to you. Be seen! Turkey hunters should always wear a blaze orange hat or vest as they enter and leave the area they are hunting. Tying blaze-orange survey tape around a decoy/calling location can alert other hunters to your presence and won't scare the birds. Avoid clothes with the colors red, white and blue and black, as these are the colors of the male turkey.
Most important, hunters are encouraged to foster good landowner relations and practice simple etiquette when choosing their hunting spot. "If someone is already hunting the area that you were planning to hunt in, have a back up spot to go rather than disturb the hunter who is already hunting your first choice location," says Fish and Game Hunter Education Coordinator Tom Flynn. "Keeping some distance between yourself and another hunter will eliminate the chances of you cutting in on one another's hunt."
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.