Spring Gobblers On Public Land!

Spring Gobblers On Public Land!

With a turkey population estimated at over 200,000 birds, New England's hunters should have no trouble finding birds this spring. These public hunting areas are great places to start! (April 2010)

Some states and regions boast larger wild turkey populations and more hunters, but New England's spring turkey hunters enjoy some of the highest success rates in the country.

Perhaps part of the reason New Englanders experience such high success rates is because the region's turkey population has expanded exponentially since the first reintroduction program began in Vermont back in 1968. We now have healthy numbers of turkeys throughout the region, and those birds live in a relatively small geographic area.

An estimated 50,000 turkeys live in Vermont, one of the highest densities in the country, and there are 35,000 and 30,000 in Connecticut and Massachusetts, respectively. These are relatively small states, but turkeys are everywhere, and they are usually seen in large flocks.

Maine is larger than the other five New England states combined and is home to about 60,000 birds. The largest percentage is in the southern, central and coastal counties, an area about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined. One can hardly drive along any rural road in these areas of Maine these days and not see birds. All totaled, and despite some recent hard winters and springs, more than 200,000 wild turkeys thrive in New England.

MAINE
Compared with other states in the region Maine has little public land, but most of the state is open to hunting if it is not specifically posted against trespassing. Several game management areas in the southern and central counties also have the highest densities of wild turkey in the state.

Mt. Agamenticus WMA
In the York County towns of York and South Berwick, the Mt. Agamenticus Wildlife Management Area offers 1,117 acres of prime upland habitat in the area where turkeys were first reintroduced in Maine in 1976. The area was originally chosen because it is close to the coast, annual snowfall depths are generally less than in other parts of interior York County, and it has a good food supply and habitat. The area contains plenty of birds and some of the best public land turkey hunting in southern Maine.

The focal point of the property is Mt. Agamenticus. The summit rises to 692 feet. The hillsides and ridges offer some good hunting; the surrounding hardwood uplands and forest wetlands are flatter, offer easier hunting and should not be overlooked.

To reach Mt. Agamenticus WMA from U.S. Route 1, take the Agamenticus Road west from Ogunquit to Agamenticus Village and then the Mountain Road.

Lodging and other services will be found in Ogunquit and along U.S. Route 1.

For more information, contact the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce at (207) 646-2939, or visit the chamber's Web site at www.ogunquit.org.

Frye Mountain WMA
Central Maine has been producing its share of birds of late, especially counties close to the coast where winter conditions are less severe.

One of the best public-hunting areas during the spring season is the Frye Mountain Wildlife Management Area in the Waldo County towns of Montville, Knox and Morris. The property covers 5,240 acres, so there is plenty of room to hunt, and its mixture of hardwood forests, old farm fields and second growth provide excellent habitat. Some of the property is flat, especially the northwest and southeast sections, but the terrain rises to an elevation of 1,139 feet atop Frye Mountain and can be more challenging. All of it, however, offers excellent spring turkey hunting.

To find Frye Mountain WMA, take Interstate Route 95 to Exit 41 and Route 7 at Dixmont. Take Route 7 south toward Belfast turning right onto Route 131 at Evans Corner. After about three miles, turn north onto Route 137 at Philbricks Corner and continue to the Frye Mountain Road at Fosters Corner, which provides access into the property. Getchell Road off Frye Mountain Road and High Ridge Road also offers access.

Lodging and services will be found in Belfast, 12 miles east of the property on Route 137.

For more information, contact the Belfast Chamber of Commerce at (207) 338-5900.

More information on the Frye Mountain area may be obtained by contacting the MDIFW's Region B headquarters in Sydney at (207) 547-5300.

For license fees and general turkey- hunting information, contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at (207) 287-8000, or visit the department's Web site at www.maine.gov/ifw.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Enfield WMA
In southern Grafton County and northern Sullivan County, the Enfield WMA offers some fine turkey-hunting opportunities for the hunter who likes big woods, plenty of elbowroom and doesn't mind some uphill and backcountry trekking.

The property starts near Fish Market on Route 4A, and except for private property along the highway, runs pretty much all the way to Lower Shaker Village westward to I-89.

Covering more than 3,000 acres Enfield WMA is the largest wildlife management area in the state. The area is covered with northern hardwoods but offers some patches of spruce and fir. There are some marshlands and several ponds. Elevations run from about 450 feet along Route 4A to about 600 feet near Halfmile Pond. Some areas of the property are steep, so hunters should be prepared.

Access to Enfield WMA is possible at points off Route 4A. South of Enfield Center at George Pond Dam, Bog Road heads south and parallels the eastern boundary and leads to a parking area.

To access the western portion of the property, take Exit 14 off I-89, go under the interstate and head east 50 yards and then south over the small bridge.

For information on lodging and other services in the area, contact the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce at (603) 448-1203.

About 70 percent of the area is covered with hardwoods with the rest covered with pine or remnant fields. Gully Brook runs through the property and is a reliable water source for birds.

To access the area, take Route 4A west from Rutland and then Birdseye Road south, which goes through the property to a parking area. On the north side of Route 4, the Blueberry Hill WMA covers 1,152 acres in three parcels and is another prime spot to hunt birds.

For more information on these areas, contact the V

ermont Fish and Wildlife Department at (802) 241-3700, or visit the department's Web site at www.vtfishandwildluife.com. Maps of these public-hunting areas will also be found on the site.

For information on lodging and other services, contact the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce at (802) 773-2747, or visit the chamber online at www.rutland.vermont. com.

MASSACHUSETTS
Raccoon Hill Wma
In the central district, many spring turkey hunters head for some of the larger public-hunting areas, but some of the smaller properties hold good numbers of birds and are often overlooked.

Raccoon Hill WMA in Barre consists of three blocks totaling 437 acres. All three offer great hunting opportunities, particularly early in the day. Much of the topography is moderate to steep hillside predominantly covered with mixed hardwoods and softwoods, but there are some flat, wooded plateaus bordered by tall hardwoods, level areas that are favorite landing sites for birds coming off the roost, prime spots to set up an early ambush.

The northern portion of the property may be accessed from Glenn Valley Road and Carter Pond Road. The central section may be accessed from Dana Road, and the largest southern portion is accessible via Spring Hill, Dana Barre or Raccoon Hill roads.

Wendell WMA
A great example of a small area with high potential is Wendell WMA in the Connecticut Valley District. The property covers 588 acres featuring gently sloping hillside covered by mixed hardwoods and conifers and flat bottomland in the town of Wendell.

Access is from Lock Village Road and Bullard Road. The understory largely consists of dense mountain laurel. Plympton Brook runs through the area.

For more information and maps of these areas, contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300, or visit the agency online at www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw.

CONNECTICUT
Cockaponset State Forest
Along with Naugatuck State Forest, Cockaponset State Forest in Haddam and Madison produce more turkeys each spring than all the other state forests in Connecticut.

The forest covers 17,186 acres, so there is plenty of room to hunt in excellent habitat with plenty of birds. Getting around and finding places to hunt is easy, thanks to over 20 miles of hiking and horse trails.

For maps and more information on Cockaponset State Forest, contact the forest headquarters at (860) 345-8521.

About 70 percent of the area is covered with hardwoods with the rest covered with pine or remnant fields. Gully Brook runs through the property and is a reliable water source for birds.

To access the area, take Route 4A west from Rutland and then Birdseye Road south, which goes through the property to a parking area. On the north side of Route 4, the Blueberry Hill WMA covers 1,152 acres in three parcels and is another prime spot to hunt birds.

For more information on these areas, contact the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department at (802) 241-3700, or visit the department's Web site at www.vtfishandwildluife.com. Maps of these public-hunting areas will also be found on the site.

For information on lodging and other services, contact the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce at (802) 773-2747, or visit the chamber online at www.rutland.vermont. com.

MASSACHUSETTS
Raccoon Hill Wma
In the central district, many spring turkey hunters head for some of the larger public-hunting areas, but some of the smaller properties hold good numbers of birds and are often overlooked.

Raccoon Hill WMA in Barre consists of three blocks totaling 437 acres. All three offer great hunting opportunities, particularly early in the day. Much of the topography is moderate to steep hillside predominantly covered with mixed hardwoods and softwoods, but there are some flat, wooded plateaus bordered by tall hardwoods, level areas that are favorite landing sites for birds coming off the roost, prime spots to set up an early ambush.

The northern portion of the property may be accessed from Glenn Valley Road and Carter Pond Road. The central section may be accessed from Dana Road, and the largest southern portion is accessible via Spring Hill, Dana Barre or Raccoon Hill roads.

Wendell WMA
A great example of a small area with high potential is Wendell WMA in the Connecticut Valley District. The property covers 588 acres featuring gently sloping hillside covered by mixed hardwoods and conifers and flat bottomland in the town of Wendell.

Access is from Lock Village Road and Bullard Road. The understory largely consists of dense mountain laurel. Plympton Brook runs through the area.

For more information and maps of these areas, contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300, or visit the agency online at www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw.

CONNECTICUT
Cockaponset State Forest
Along with Naugatuck State Forest, Cockaponset State Forest in Haddam and Madison produce more turkeys each spring than all the other state forests in Connecticut.

The forest covers 17,186 acres, so there is plenty of room to hunt in excellent habitat with plenty of birds. Getting around and finding places to hunt is easy, thanks to over 20 miles of hiking and horse trails.

For maps and more information on Cockaponset State Forest, contact the forest headquarters at (860) 345-8521.

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