Spring turkey season starts on Monday, May 1 throughout Maine, but youth hunters had own day Saturday, April 29. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists believe that hunters are in for a successful season.
“With a dry spring last year, and a relatively average winter throughout the state, we are seeing good numbers of turkeys in nearly all areas of the state,” said Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Kelsey Sullivan.
Maine is quickly becoming known as a destination for wild turkey hunters, as hunters from 44 states and six different Canadian provinces hunted turkeys in Maine last year. The majority of out-of-state hunters came from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
Last year’s dry spring provided nearly ideal nesting conditions, which meant higher hatching and survival rates for poults, according to Sullivan. That should translate into hunters seeing multiple birds. Last year, more than 16,000 hunters pursued turkeys in Maine.
“It also seems that the timing of the season is nearly ideal. We are hearing lots of gobbling activities, and seeing a lot of males strutting,” said Sullivan, who added that he thought turkeys would be very responsive to calling.
Wild turkeys are a wildlife success story in Maine. Once gone completely from Maine landscapes, they are now a familiar sight in all Maine’s 16 counties, thanks to a reintroduction and management plan started in the 1970s by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
“Maine has some excellent turkey hunting, and hunters throughout New England and beyond are realizing that,” said Sullivan. “Success rates are very good, the birds are lightly hunted compared to other states, and you can hunt turkeys throughout the state.”
With a valid Maine big-game or small-game hunting license, turkey hunters can purchase a wild turkey permit for just $20 for both residents and nonresidents. This permit allows turkey hunters to take up to two bearded wild turkeys in the spring, and an additional two turkeys in the fall. Legal hunting hours for turkey hunting stretch from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. The spring season runs until June 3.
For more information on hunting season dates, times, licenses, and bag limits, refer to the hunting lawbook or go to mefishwildlife.com.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife strongly encourages all turkey hunters to reach out to landowners before hunting. Please remember to ask first before accessing private land, and respect any and all requests of the landowners.