Ted Walski: (603) 352-9669
Mark Ellingwood: (603) 271-2461
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
April 14, 2008
Outlook Good for New Hampshire Spring Turkey Hunt
CONCORD, N.H. - The outlook is good for a successful 2008 New Hampshire spring gobbler hunt, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Turkey Project Leader Ted Walski. The state's spring turkey hunt runs from Saturday, May 3, through Saturday, May 31. The youth turkey hunt weekend (April 26-27) precedes the regular season.
Last year (2007), a total of 3,651 turkeys were harvested from 226 towns during the New Hampshire spring turkey season and youth turkey weekend. This was a slight increase (92 turkeys) over the harvest of 2006 and a new state record.
"I'm optimistic," said Walski, who predicts that New Hampshire's spring 2008 turkey season could be as good as the last year's record harvest, or perhaps even better. "Males were gobbling and displaying by mid-February, which was a good sign," he said. "While it was a long hard winter in the Granite State, turkeys did well because much of the time they had fairly good mobility on top of the snow crust, so they were able to travel much further to find food without burning up a lot of energy."
Turkey hunters must hold (depending on their method of hunting) either a current N.H. hunting or archery license AND a turkey license. 2008 turkey licenses are $16 for N.H. residents and $31 for nonresidents and cover both the spring and fall seasons. Licenses can be purchased online (click here for online license sales) or from Fish and Game license agents statewide. Youth hunters (under age 16) need a $16 (or $31 for nonresidents) turkey license, but do not need a hunting license; youth hunters must always be accompanied by a properly licensed adult at least 18 years of age.
Hunting hours for the spring turkey season are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 12:00 noon. "One has to get up quite early and be in the woods before light, because turkeys start gobbling from the roost trees just before daybreak, then they're down on the ground displaying for prospective girlfriends." said Walski. "Get out and scout now before May starts; set yourself a 5 or 10 mile route around town and stop every half-mile or mile. Look for fresh scratchings in the fields and woods. Look and listen for turkeys displaying and gobbling early in the morning. 6 a.m.-6:30 a.m. is prime gobbling time."
Hone your turkey hunting skills by signing up for a free turkey-calling seminar on Wednesday, April 23, 2008, from 7 - 9 p.m. at N.H. Fish and Game Department headquarters in Concord. Pro-staff members of Tooky River Calls of Contoocook, N.H. will take you though the basics of all types of turkey calls, including box, slate, push button and mouth calls. Pro-staffers will also discuss hunting setup, ethics and turkey hunting safety. Wildlife biologist Mark Ellingwood will talk about the history of wild turkeys in New Hampshire, including turkey biology and the state of the flock. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. To register, call Mark Beauchesne at 603-271-6355.
Turkey hunting has become an increasingly popular activity in New Hampshire. During 2007, hunters purchased a total of 19,371 turkey licenses, in addition to 3,466 fall shotgun turkey permits. In 1980, the first year a turkey hunting season was offered in New Hampshire in modern times, just over 700 permit holders harvested 31 turkeys. To view graphs illustrating the annual increases in New Hampshire's turkey harvest and license sales since 1980, plus how the state's turkey population has changed during that time, click here.
As of August 2007, New Hampshire's statewide wild turkey population was an estimated 35,000 birds. Turkey numbers continue to grow in northern and eastern areas of the state. Last year, three late snowfalls and cold temperatures in April 2007 may have caused abandonment of some early nests and delayed further nesting. "If we have normal hatching weather this year -- no cold rains at the critical hatching time -- we could see a productive year for turkeys," Walski said. Hunters are only allowed a single bearded or male turkey during the spring season.
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.
First-time hunters who need the required hunter education course should sign up as soon as possible; for a list of available hunter education classes, 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.
For more information on turkey hunting in New Hampshire, including regulations and registration stations, click here.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.