Hunters are gearing up for Vermont's spring youth turkey hunting weekend later this month and getting ready for the regular spring turkey hunting season that starts May 1.
Vermont offers some of the best turkey hunting in New England according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. In 2013, Hunters took 6,362 turkeys in both the youth weekend and regular seasons, and 608 turkeys in the fall season.
What makes Vermont's spring gobbler season special? Vermont's turkey hunting is statewide during the spring season. Vermont's turkey population is one of the highest in New England. You can buy a turkey hunting license without having to go through a lottery. The turkey license comes with two spring tags for two bearded birds and one tag for a turkey of either sex in the fall season. Plus, you get to hunt the entire weekend, because hunting is allowed on Sundays.
Youth turkey hunting weekend is April 26-27 this year. Landowner permission is required to hunt on private land, whether or not the land is posted. To be eligible, a youth must be age 15 or under. The youth must have successfully completed a hunter education course and possess a hunting license, a turkey hunting license and a free youth turkey hunting tag.
The youth also must be accompanied by an unarmed adult who holds a hunting license and is over 18 years of age. Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to noon. The youth may take one bearded turkey during youth weekend and two bearded turkeys in the regular May hunting season.
Last year, young hunters enjoyed a success rate of 42 percent when they took 782 turkeys during Vermont's two-day youth hunt, which offers a great opportunity for young people to learn about turkey hunting while coached by an experienced adult.
The regular spring turkey hunting season is May 1-31. Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to noon. Two bearded turkeys may be taken, and all of Vermont is open to turkey hunting during the youth weekend and regular spring season.
A shotgun or bow and arrow may be used in the youth turkey or regular spring turkey hunting seasons. Shot size must be no larger than #2 and no smaller than #8.
"Although brood production was lower than average last year due to the wet spring, Vermont's turkey population appears to remain high, and we anticipate another great harvest in 2014," said Amy Alfieri, Vermont's wild turkey project leader.
Vermont was the first New England state to re-establish wild turkeys when it released 31 wild birds from New York in 1969 and 1970. Today, the Green Mountain State has an estimated 50,000 turkeys.
Vermont's wild turkey restoration program is a tremendous wildlife management success story funded entirely by hunters through the sale of hunting licenses and a federal tax on hunting equipment. Now, hunters are reaping the benefits by seeing excellent turkey hunting in Vermont. And, all Vermonters are enjoying watching the big birds as they roam hillsides they had been absent from for almost a century.
To find out more about wild turkey hunting in Vermont, contact the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department by telephone at 802-828-1000 or check in at their website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). The 2013 Turkey Harvest Report, available on the website, has details to help you plan your hunt, including the number of turkeys taken in each town. Last year, turkeys were taken in all of Vermont's 253 towns. While on their website, be sure to look at a printable copy of the guide to "2014 Spring and Fall Turkey Seasons."
Licenses are available on their website and from agents statewide.