From New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
-- It should be a good season for New Hampshire turkey hunters, according to Ted Walski, turkey biologist, for the spring season May 3 to 31.
Both turkeys and deer are happy campers in much of the state, following one of the mildest winters in recent memory. Except for an unusual October snowstorm, there was little meaningful snowfall. The fall mast crop provided an abundant crop of acorns, beechnuts, apples, white ash seeds and various other seeds and fruits.
Turkeys were displaying and gobbling to some degree almost all winter, Walski said. With good mobility and easy access to natural foods, turkeys tended to stay in smaller family groups during the winter months, rather than congregating in large flocks at farms and birdfeeders.
Walski predicts a reasonably good turkey harvest in the range of 4,000 gobblers. He reports numerous groups of turkeys have been observed throughout the state. During the 2011 spring gobbler season, New Hampshire hunters harvested a total of 3,672 turkeys.
Hunters should be sure to get out and do some scouting this spring, says Walski. The hot weather in March inspired turkeys quite a bit of displaying and gobbling.
"I would expect earlier than normal nesting and hatching out of turkeys, grouse, woodcock and even rabbits this year," Walski said. "This may benefit turkey hunters because more hens will incubate and be out of circulation when the regular season starts May 3. With fewer live hens to capture the toms’ attention, they may be more interested in answering hunters’ calls."
New for 2012, the allowable shot size for taking wild turkey has changed from #2, #4, #5 and #6 to a shot size of #2 or smaller. This legalizes the use of modern, heavier-than lead loads that utilize a blend of shot sizes.
Also new this year is New Hampshire's apprentice hunting license for those interested in trying hunting or bowhunting to do so under the guidance of an experienced hunter without first taking the required Hunter Education course.
New hunters can buy an apprentice hunting license, which costs the same as a regular hunting license and is good for the rest of the calendar year. Hunters can buy an apprentice hunting license only once during his or her lifetime. More information about the apprentice hunting license, including FAQs for apprentice hunters and those accompanying is available 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 and one turkey of either sex during the fall archery season Sept. 15 – Dec. 15, or during the fall shotgun season (October 15-19. 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.