It should be a good spring season for New Hampshire’s turkey hunters, says New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Turkey Biologist Ted Walski. The spring gobbler season opens Friday, May 3, and runs through Friday, May 31, statewide. New Hampshire’s Youth Turkey Hunt Weekend occurs the weekend before the season opens, this year taking place on April 27-28.
See a new 3-minute video about turkey hunting in New Hampshire at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_turkey.htm.
Longtime Fish and Game Turkey Biologist Ted Walski predicts a good turkey harvest this spring, in the range of 4,000 gobblers. New Hampshire saw a relatively good hatch of young turkeys last summer, followed by a fairly easy winter.
Last year, New Hampshire hunters took 3,876 gobblers during the spring season and 1,056 turkeys in the fall (706 from 5-day shotgun and 350 from archery). During the 2012 youth turkey hunting weekend, 480 turkeys were registered (these are counted in the spring total).
Hunters should be sure to get out and do some scouting soon. Walski recommends driving early morning “gobbling routes” before the season begins. Start about a half-hour before daybreak. Stop at one-half to one-mile intervals along a 5- to 10-mile route in the region you intend to hunt; get out of the vehicle and listen for gobbling turkeys and drumming grouse for four minutes at each stop.
Hunters may notice some additional biological activity going on at the turkey check stations early in the season. Biologists will be present at 10-12 registration stations around the state to ask hunters to donate a 4-inch leg bone section above the spur up to the knee joint. The goal is to collect 50 turkey leg bone samples; 5 from each of the state’s 10 counties. These samples will be sent to the University of Georgia, where the bone marrow from cooperating states from throughout the country will be analyzed to help determine the prevalence of two turkey viruses. To learn more about these viruses, visit http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/turkey_virus.html.
“To help us learn about the distribution and prevalence of these viruses in New Hampshire, hunters are urged to cooperate with this study, which is being implemented and coordinated by the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study,” said Walski. “Despite the presence of lesions often associated with these viruses, there are no known human health implications associated with these two viruses. These viruses are not related to avian flu.”
Fish and Game officials anticipate continued interest in New Hampshire’s apprentice hunting license option, which allows those interested in trying hunting or bowhunting to do so under the guidance of an experienced hunter without first taking Hunter Education. The apprentice hunting license costs the same as a regular hunting license and is good for the rest of the calendar year. You can buy an apprentice hunting license only once during your lifetime, and they can be purchased only at the N.H. Fish and Game Department in Concord.
Last year, more than 1,000 new hunters purchased over 1,600 apprentice hunting licenses of various types in New Hampshire, including 164 turkey licenses. About a quarter of the new hunters were women. Apprentice licenses were especially popular with young adult hunters – almost one-third of the apprentice licensees were age 19-24, and another third were 25-34 years old. Learn more about the apprentice hunting license, including FAQs for apprentice hunters and those accompanying, at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/apprentice.html.
A New Hampshire turkey license is required for hunters of all ages ($16 for state residents and $31 for nonresidents). This license allows the taking of one gobbler during the spring season (May 3-31, 2013) and one turkey of either sex during the fall archery season (September 15 – December 15, 2013) OR during the fall shotgun season (October 14-18, 2013). Hunters age 16 and older must hold either a current New Hampshire hunting or archery license AND a turkey permit. Licenses are available online at http://www.huntnh.com or from any license agent.
All hunters should keep in mind key safety guidelines for 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. Tie blaze-orange survey tape around a decoy/calling location to alert other hunters to your presence; it 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 a list of registration stations, visit http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_turkey.htm.
Logo courtesy New Hampshire Fish and Game Department