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NH spring gobbler harvest mimics '09 season

From the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

-- New Hampshire hunters had a good spring turkey season, Turkey Project Biologist Ted Walski reports. The final harvest for the state was 3,667 turkeys. The breakdown was 2,739 adult toms, 909 jakes and 19 bearded hens. This year's take was in line with the 2009 spring harvest total of 4,063 turkeys. New Hampshire's spring gobbler season runs from May 3-31.

During the Youth Turkey Hunt Weekend held May 1-2, young hunters harvested 541 gobblers, or 14.8 percent of the total spring harvest. This was about the same as the take during youth weekend in 2009, which was 570 or 14 percent.

On opening day of the spring gobbler season May 3, hunters registered 655 turkeys, or 18 percent of the season total. The first weekend of the season saw 408 birds registered (11.2 percent), but rain, wind and cold temperatures reduced the expected take.

At every registration station, the number and percentage of adult gobblers was significantly higher than the take of jakes or juveniles. The juvenile/adult harvest ratio was 0.33 to 1.00, or 1 jake to 3 toms. The relatively low number of jakes is most likely the result of near-record rains during the past two summers (2009 and 2008), which decimated the hatch of young turkeys.

Two-year-old toms made up 1,819 of the 3,688 gobblers taken  at 49.9 percent,  the lion's share of the harvest in most Wildlife Management Units. Other age classes represented in the season total included: 909 one year olds (24.9%); 727 three year olds (19.9%); 172 four year olds (4.7%); and 21 five year olds (0.6%).

The highest number of gobblers was taken in WMU K (which is most of Hillsborough County), with 471 taken; followed closely by WMU J2 (north of Route 4 from Concord to Rochester and north to Lake Winnipesaukee), where hunters took 470 birds. One surprise was that hunters in WMU M in highly developed southeastern New Hampshire registered nearly 300 turkeys.

The heaviest gobblers taken during the spring season were four turkeys that weighed in at 26 pounds; three at 25 pounds; ten at 24 pounds; and 37 turkeys weighed 23 pounds. The longest beard on a gobbler was 13 inches; and 8 birds had 11-inch beards. The longest spurs on any gobbler were 1 1/2 inches; two birds sported spurs that were 1 3/8 inches long.

Numerous dry, sunny, warm days in May created favorable hatching conditions for this year's broods,  Walski said. Early summer brood observations, a random sample of 40 turkey broods from across the state conducted in May and June, recorded an average of 9.2 poults per hen, which is very good. "Hopefully, this summer will help make up for the below-average hatching success the past two years," said Walski. 

For more information on turkey hunting in New Hampshire, visit

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