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CONTACT:
      Ted Walski, N.H. Fish and Game Turkey Project Biologist: 603-352-9669
      Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
      June 21, 2011

wild turkeys take a stroll

N.H. Spring Gobbler Season Results

CONCORD, N.H. -- The numbers are in from the 2011 spring gobbler season, reflecting a successful harvest for New Hampshire turkey hunters, according to N.H. Fish and Game Department Turkey Project Biologist Ted Walski. The preliminary total for the spring gobbler harvest for the state was 3,672 turkeys – three birds more than last year. Hunters took 597 turkeys (19% of the season total) on the opening day of the regular season (May 3).

According to Walski, a number of factors influenced this year’s tally.  Weather created some less-than-ideal hunting conditions -- the second day of the season was a washout, and a six-day rainy period during mid-May also dampened efforts. Also, record rains during the summers of 2008 and 2009 led to below-average turkey productivity, which influenced gobbler abundance this spring.

Young hunters continued to do well during their special youth turkey hunt weekend, which took place on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday May 1.  Youth took 527 gobblers, or 14.4% of the total season harvest during youth weekend, compared to 541 taken last year. 

Last summer's dry conditions contributed to a good turkey hatch in 2010, with the result being that there were more jakes (juvenile males) in this season’s harvest, as compared to recent years.  This year’s male harvest ratio was 40% jakes to 60% toms (adult males).  A sample of 619 gobblers from six registration stations in southwestern New Hampshire were aged by spur length measurements, with the following breakdown into age classes of the harvest:  1 year (39.1%), 2 year (34.6%), 3 year (18.9%), 4 year (5.2%), 5 year+ (2.6%).

The state is broken up into 18 Wildlife Management Units, and it is always interesting to compare season harvests among these units.  WMU K (which is most of Hillsboro County) had the most turkeys  registered (528); followed closely by WMU J2 (north of Route 4 from Concord to Rochester) with 511 turkeys; and WMU H2 (most of Cheshire County) with 431 turkeys.

Quite a few heavy turkeys were taken this season, possibly because of the abundance of acorns still on the ground this spring.  There were 43 gobblers weighing 23 to 23½ pounds and 20 gobblers tipping the scales at 24 to 26 pounds.  The largest birds were taken in south-central New Hampshire:  28 lbs. from Merrimack, 28 lbs. from Hollis, and 27 lbs. from Hudson.  The longest beard lengths on gobblers were:  11¾ and 11½ (two birds) inches.  The longest spur lengths on gobblers were 1½ (two birds), and 1 3/8 inches.

So far, 2011 has seen favorable hatching weather for wild turkeys.  According to Walski, most of the wild turkey hatching occurred during the last week of May and the first week or so of June.  The 8-day period from May 24-31 had hot, humid days, as did the first week of June. Young turkeys are extremely sensitive to cool temperatures and rain, which can impact their health and adversely affect insect populations that are a critical source of nutrition for young turkeys.

To help monitor the status of the statewide wild turkey population, Fish and Game is currently running its first year of an online Turkey Brood Survey.  Interested observers are urged to report sightings of hen turkeys with young at www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey.

For more on turkey hunting in New Hampshire, visit www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_turkey.htm.

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