Vermont offers some of the best turkey hunting in New England according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. In 2011, hunters took more than 4,700 turkeys in both the youth weekend and regular May 1-31 seasons.
What makes Vermont’s spring gobbler season special? Vermont’s hunting is statewide during the spring season. Vermont’s turkey population is one of the highest in New England. You can buy a turkey hunting license without having to go through a lottery. The turkey license comes with two spring tags for two bearded birds and one tag for a turkey of either sex in the fall season. Plus, you get to hunt the entire weekend, because hunting is allowed on Sundays.
The hunter success was 22.5 percent, and an impressive 25.1 percent of those hunters took a second bearded turkey. Adult birds made up 64 percent of the total. Turkeys were taken in 238 of Vermont’s 253 towns.
Youth turkey hunting weekend is April 28-29 this year. Landowner permission is required to hunt on private land, whether or not the land is posted. To be eligible, a resident or nonresident youth must be age 15 or under. The youth must have successfully completed a hunter education course and possess a hunting license, a turkey hunting license and a free youth turkey hunting tag. The youth also must be accompanied by an unarmed adult who holds a hunting license and is over 18 years of age. The youth may take one bearded turkey during youth weekend and two bearded turkeys in the regular May hunting season.
The regular spring turkey hunting season is May 1-31. Two bearded turkeys may be taken, and all of Vermont is open to turkey hunting during the youth weekend and regular spring season. Shooting hours for both the youth and regular spring turkey season are one half hour before sunrise to 12:00 Noon.
Vermont is offering a new “mentored hunting license” this year for a resident or nonresident who has never completed a hunter education course or held a hunting license. A person with a mentored hunting license may hunt when accompanied by an adult 21 or older who holds a Vermont hunting license.
A shotgun or bow and arrow may be used in the youth turkey or regular spring turkey hunting seasons. Shot size must be no larger than #2 and no smaller than #8.
Vermont was the first New England state to re-establish wild turkeys when it stocked 31 birds in 1969 and 1970. Today, the Green Mountain State has an estimated 50,000 turkeys.
Vermont’s wild turkey restoration program is a tremendous wildlife management success story funded entirely by hunters through the sale of hunting licenses and a federal tax on hunting equipment. Now, hunters are reaping the benefits by seeing excellent turkey hunting in Vermont. And, all Vermonters are enjoying watching the big birds as they roam hillsides they had been absent from for almost a century.