Ted Walski: (603) 352-9669
Kent Gustafson: (603) 271-2461
Jay Martin: (603) 271-3211
April 19, 2019
CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Turkey Biologist Ted Walski predicts another good harvest during the upcoming 2019 spring gobbler season. The spring turkey hunt opens on May 1, and runs through May 31, statewide.
New Hampshire’s 2019 youth turkey hunt will take place Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, the weekend before spring gobbler season opens. During the 2018 youth weekend, young hunters took 339 turkeys or 8.1% of the total spring season’s harvest. To participate in the youth weekend, hunters must be age 15 or younger and must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult age 18 or older. The mentoring adult may not carry a firearm or bow. Youth hunters do not need a hunting license, but they must have a valid turkey permit which is $16 for residents and $31 for nonresidents. Accompanying adults must hold either a current New Hampshire hunting or archery license and a turkey permit.
Note: Beginning in 2019, various regulation changes have been made affecting season dates, bag limits, and other regulations. Detailed information regarding the 2019 spring and fall turkey seasons are available at: www.huntnh.com/hunting/documents/turkey-regs.pdf.
About 20,000 people participate in turkey hunting in New Hampshire out of a total of approximately 60,000 hunters in the state. Last year, spring turkey hunters harvested 4,204 birds. See turkey harvest by town and Wildlife Management Unit in the newly published 2018 NH Wildlife Harvest Summary, available at www.huntnh.com/hunting/documents/2018-harvest-summary.pdf.
“There’s likely to be another good turkey harvest during the May 2019 spring gobbler season,” said Walski. “The summer turkey brood surveys showed a 25% increase in poult production during the summer of 2018 compared with 2017, indicating relatively high reproductive success.” The 2018 Summer Turkey Brood Survey recorded 577 turkey brood reports, and the month of August showed a statewide average of 4.15 poults per hen, an increase from 3.32 in 2017.
Winter 2019 conditions were relatively easy for turkeys over much of the southern half of New Hampshire. There were few long-lasting snowfalls though it was the “winter of icy crusts” throughout much of the season. Turkeys were able to easily walk on the snow crusts to look for food sources, and there were several thawing periods in February which created some bare ground sites on south-facing slopes. In southern areas, winter was largely over by mid-March when warm temperatures resulted in significant bare ground.
Numerous flocks of 20 or more turkeys were recorded during the winter of 2019, with a few flocks of 100 or more turkeys reported. Statewide, New Hampshire is estimated to have approximately 40,000 turkeys. “That’s about as many wild turkeys as the land can support, or, in biological terms, the carrying capacity has probably been reached,” said Walski.
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 1-31, 2019) and one turkey of either sex during the fall archery season or during the week-long fall shotgun season. 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 www.huntnh.com or from any license agent.
If you want to try turkey hunting this spring and haven’t completed Hunter Education yet, consider the Apprentice Hunting License. This license allows those 16 and older interested in trying hunting to do so under the guidance of an experienced hunter without first taking Hunter Education. Learn more at www.huntnh.com/hunting/apprentice.html.
All hunters should keep in mind key safety guidelines for turkey hunters:
- 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, blue, or black because they are male turkey colorations
You can find more information on turkey hunting in New Hampshire, including a summary of rules, a list of registration stations, and a three-minute video about a successful New Hampshire spring turkey hunt, at www.huntnh.com/hunting/turkey.html.