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New Hampshire spring turkey harvest numbers parallel 2010

From the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game

-- The preliminary total for the spring gobbler harvest for New Hampshire was 3,672 turkeys  three birds more than last year. Hunters took 597 turkeys, 19 percent of the season total, on May 3, opening day of the regular season.  

The totals reflect a successful harvest, according to Ted Walski, Turkey Project biologist, who indicates a number of factors influenced this years tally.

Weather created 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 youth turkey hunt weekend, April 30 and May 1. Youth took 527 gobblers, or 14.4 percent 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. The result was more jakes were in this seasons harvest, as compared to recent years. This years male harvest ratio was 40 percent jakes to 60 percent toms. A sample of 619 gobblers from six registration stations in southwestern New Hampshire were aged by spur length measurements, with breakdown into age classes of the harvest: 1 year (39.1 percent), 2 year (34.6 percent), 3 year (18.9 percent), 4 year (5.2 percent) and 5 year+ (2.6 percent).

Wildlife Management Unit K had the most turkeys registered with 528 turkeys, followed closely by WMU J2 with 511 turkeys, and WMU H2 with 431 turkeys.

Quite a few heavy turkeys were taken, possibly because of the abundance of acorns still on the ground this spring. There were 43 gobblers weighing 23 to 23 1/2 pounds and 20 gobblers tipping the scales at 24 to 26 pounds. The largest birds were taken in south central New Hampshire: 28 pounds from Merrimack, 28 pounds from Hollis, and 27 pounds from Hudson. The longest beard lengths on gobblers were: 11 3/4  and 11 1/2 (two birds) inches. The longest spur lengths on gobblers were 1 1/2 (two birds), and 1 3/8 inches.

So far, 2011 has seen favorable hatching weather for wild turkeys. According to Walski, most 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 to 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 asking interested observers to report sightings of hen turkeys with young  in the new online Turkey Brood Survey at http://www.wildnh.com/turkeybroodsurvey.

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