Maine Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2014

Maine Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2014
Evelyn Howie, 10 years old from Ellsworth Maine shot her first turkey tom weighed 20 lbs, 9 1/4" beard and had 7/8" spurs.

Pine Tree State turkey biologist Kelsey Sullivan said that the 2014 spring turkey season should be similar to the 2013 season, when some 6,500 birds were harvested. Maine turkey hunting enthusiasts may now use crossbows in addition to shotguns and vertical bows. Season dates are from April 28 through May 31 statewide. In Wildlife Management districts 7 and 9 through 29 (essentially southern Maine) the season bag limits is two bearded birds, while in WMDs 1 through 6 and 8 the bag limit is one gobbler.  The Youth Spring Wild Turkey day is April 26.

Maine is unique in that hunting is allowed on any land that is not posted against trespassing. However, hunters are urged to meet private landowners and seek permission to hunt as a courtesy. Because Maine is a large state with a healthy turkey population that has been carefully managed since the birds were first introduced during the 1980s, hunters should have no problem finding a 2014 spring tom.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Metal Turkey

If speed equals downrange killing power, then HEVI-Metal turkey loads will make any hunter a turkey killin' fool. HEVI-Shot trades slightly lighter loads in their 3 ½-inch 12-gauge shells for extra speed, but if you can't kill a turkey with 1 ½ ounces of #4 or 6 shot, then maybe you should take up golf.

Traveling at a whopping 1,450 fps, the increased velocity allows you to stretch your shots a few extra yards and put a tag on that hung-up gobbler. The 3-inch 12-gauge shells have the same velocity with 1 ¼ ounces of shot. Loads are also available in 20-gauge.

Price: $11 per box of 5

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

HEVI-Shot Magnum Blend Turkey Loads

Can't decide on #5, 6 or 7 shot? HEVI-Shot's Magnum Blends make that decision for you. You get all three in a single shell. The patented Pattern Density Technology gives you the opportunity to kill birds at greater distances while giving you complete confidence to drop a gobbler with a single shot up close.

Three-inch 12-gauge shells carry 2 ounces of shot. Loads are also available in 20-gauge. Magnum Blends aren't cheap, but when you've got a gobbler closing the distance, are you really thinking about a few extra bucks?

Price: $25 per box of 5

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Hornady Heavy Magnum Turkey

Hornady's reputation as a bullet manufacturer is second to none. The company's relatively new line of shotgun shells fits right in with their high standards of quality and effectiveness. The Heavy Magnum Turkey loads incorporate Hornady's patented VersaTite wad, which maintains a tight, short shot string at farther ranges.

Loaded with 1 ½ ounces of nickel-plated 4, 5, or 6 shot, the 3-inch 12-gauge loads have a muzzle velocity of 1,300 fps; the new 20-gauge loads travel at 1,200 fps and are packed with 1 3/8-ounce of #5 shot.

Price: $10.71 per box of 10

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Kent Diamond Shot

Speed or pellet count? It's a debate as old as turkey shotshells. Kent Cartridge ends that debate by giving hunters the freedom to choose a faster load or a heavier one. Ultimate Diamond Shot lead turkey loads are available in 3 or 3 ½-inch 12-gauge loads packed with #4, 5 or 6 shot.

Here's the kicker. You can select a 2-ounce load that travels at 1,300 fps or a 2 ¼-ounce load that moves at 1,200 fps in the 3 ½-inch shell. The 3-inch options are similar, except both 3-inch shells carry a little less shot. However, the speed difference is greater. The lighter load travels at 1,325 fps; the heavier load sails out your barrel at 1,175 fps.

Price: $10 per box of 10

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Kent Five Star Penetrator

A 50/50 blend of Tungsten Matrix and Diamond Shot, the Kent Five Star Penetrator gives hunters a one-two punch that drops gobblers in their tracks. Both shot types are #5 pellets, a favorite shot size among turkey hunters everywhere and an effective size for a variety of distances.

The blend results in dense downrange patterns and short shot strings for maximum killing power. Available in 3 ½ and 3-inch 12-gauge, both loads are packed with two types of #5 shot. The longer shell has a muzzle velocity of 1,325 fps; the3-inch load travels at 1,200 fps.

Price: $30 per box of 10

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Remington Nitro

Budget-minded hunters looking for a quality shell packed with lots of shot should take a close look at Remington's Nitro Buffered turkey loads. The 3-inch 12-gauge shells are crammed with an incredible 1 7/8 ounces of #4, 5, or 6 lead pellets, offering dense patterns and lots of killing power.

Also available in 2 ¾ and 3 ½-inch 12-gauge shells and 3-inch 20-gauge shells, Nitro turkey loads sail downrange at velocities of up to 1,300 fps.

Price: $11

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Remington Premier Magnum

Is it any wonder Remington is one of the leading sellers of turkey loads? Big Green's shells have been a fixture in the spring gobbler woods for decades. There's no question Remington's Premier High-Velocity magnum copper-plated turkey loads will keep the company at the forefront of the turkey market for many more years.

The shell's one-piece Power Piston wad and hardened copper-plated shot are flat-out deadly. The three-inch, 12-gauge loads are packed with a hefty 1 ¾ ounces of #4, 5 or 6 shot, and the 3 ½-inch 12-gauge loads come with 2 ounces of #4 or 5 shot.

Price: $17

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Winchester Double X

It may be a 10-gauge load, but it goes to 11 thanks to Winchester's custom-blended powders and patented Grex buffering. Two ounces of copper-plated #4 or 5 shot is packed into the 3 ½-inch load and it travels at a smoking 1,300 fps. Double X turkey loads are also available in 12, 20 and even 16-gauge shells for those nostalgic turkey hunters among us.

The 16s come in 2 ¾-inch 4s or 6s and are packed with 1 1/8 ounces of shot that has a muzzle velocity of 1,295 fps. The 12-gauge shells are available in 2 ¾, 3 and 3 ½-inch loads packed with #4, 5 or 6 shot.

Price: $13 per box of 10

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Winchester Long Beard XR

You need all the advantages you can get in the spring woods. Winchester gives you the upper hand with its Long Beard XR. The pellets, available in #4, 5 or 6, are coated with Winchester's patented ShotLok resin, which forms a barrier around each pellet.

It prevents pellets from deforming as they travel down the barrel, resulting in tighter patterns and fewer 'flyer ' pellets. That gives you a longer effective range and more dead turkeys. Available only in 12-gauge, Long Beard XRs come in 3 and 3 ½-inch shells.

Price: $20 per box of 10

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Federal Mag-Shok Heavyweight LR

Turkey loads kick. There's no way around it. That recoil is one reason some hunters, particularly new or smaller-framed hunters, miss. Federal's Heavyweight LR take some of the punch of each shot without sacrificing killing power. They have nearly half the recoil of standard Heavyweight loads, but still travel at 1,300 fps at the muzzle.

The 2 ¾-inch 12-gauge shells are packed with 1 ¼ ounces of #6 or 7 tungsten-based shot; the 20-gauge shells are also 2 ¾ inches and are packed with 1 1/8 ounces of #7 shot.

Price: $25 per box of 5

Check out all the hottest new turkey shotguns for 2014.

Public lands where spring turkey hunting is allowed include wildlife management areas (covering over 100,000 acres statewide), Public Reserve Lands and municipally-owned lands. Central and southern Maine's mix of forestlands and farmlands provide the perfect mix of habitat for spring turkeys, but small populations of birds may be found as far north as Ashland and points east and south. York County in southernmost Maine is where these birds were first re-introduced in Maine and currently hosts a stable, healthy population of wild turkeys despite being one of the most developed portions of the state.

Hunters should focus their efforts on broken farmland bordered by hardwood ridges (oak and beech), river bottoms and grassy fields where turkeys spend most of their time in spring. Roost birds at sunset or walk Maine's endless logging roads and use a crow call to locate vocal gobblers. Local populations are likely to roost, feed and travel along the same routes day after day unless they are disturbed.

For a complete listing of public hunting areas in Maine and current spring turkey-hunting regulations log onto www.mefishwildlife.com.

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