Vermont eyeing banner spring turkey season

Large numbers of turkeys are being seen this spring in much of Vermont after two relatively mild winters. (Photo by John Hall/Vermont Fish & Wildlife)

MONTPELIER, Vt. – It’s almost time for spring turkey hunting in Vermont. Youth spring turkey hunting weekend is April 29-30 this year, and the regular spring turkey season is May 1-31.

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.

In 2016, hunters took 5,537 turkeys in both the youth weekend and regular spring season, and 1,272 turkeys in the fall season.

Landowner permission is required to hunt on private land during youth turkey hunting weekend. 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. New this year — shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. just for the youth weekend. The youth may take one bearded turkey during youth weekend and two bearded turkeys in the regular May hunting season. Last year, young hunters took 662 turkeys during Vermont’s two-day youth hunt with a success rate of 31 percent.

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 archery equipment 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.

The success rate during the 2016 May season was 21 percent, and of those successful hunters, 33 percent harvested a second bird under the two-bird limit.

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 45,000-60,000 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, said Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. “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.

“Large numbers of turkeys are being seen this spring after two relatively mild winters,” added Porter, “ so hunters can expect very good chances of success.”

For more on 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 2016 Turkey Harvest Report, available on the website, has details to help you plan your hunt, including the number of turkeys taken in each town. A 2017 Guide to Turkey Hunting, also on the website, provides regulations for this year.

Licenses are available on the Fish & Wildlife website and from agents statewide.

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