The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

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Vermont’s spring turkey hunting starts this week

Vermont offers some of the best turkey hunting in New England according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  In 2012, Hunters took 4,714 turkeys in both the youth weekend and regular May 1-31 seasons, and 1,365 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.

Landowner permission is required to hunt on private land, whether or not the land is posted.

Youth turkey hunting weekend is April 27-28 this year. 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 12-noon. The youth may take one bearded turkey during youth weekend and two bearded turkeys in the regular May hunting season.

The regular spring turkey hunting season is May 1-31. Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to 12-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.

Vermont was the first New England state to re-establish wild turkeys when it stocked 31 birds in 1969 and 1970. Today, the Green Mountain State has an estimated 50,000 turkeys. Last year, turkeys were taken in 241 of Vermont's 253 towns.

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 802-241-3700 or check in at their website www.vtfishandwildlife.com. While on their website, be sure to look at a printable copy of the guide to "2013 Spring and Fall Turkey Seasons."    

Licenses are available on their website and at agents statewide.

Not even a turkey would mistake a hunter for a turkey

Vermont's youth turkey hunting weekend is April 27-28, and the regular spring season is May 1-31. While spring turkey hunting-related shootings are rare (last year's season was incident-free) precautions are needed.

Camouflage or drab colored clothing is almost mandatory to outwit a keen sighted gobbler. Unfortunately, camouflage has the same affect on other hunters as it has on the turkeys.

"With a handful of exceptions, all of our incidents have been caused by hunters who don't positively identify the target before they pull the trigger," said Chris Saunders, Hunter Education Coordinator. "And the victim is usually another hunter, often a friend, trying to stalk a turkey call."

VTF&W recommends these Turkey Hunting Safety Tips:
•    Never stalk a gobbling turkey. Your chances of getting close are poor, and you may be sneaking up on another hunter.
•    Don't be patriotic. Avoid red, white and blue… and black too. A tom turkey's head has similar colors.
•    Stick with hen calls. A gobbler call might draw in other hunters.
•    Avoid unnecessary movement. This alerts turkeys and attracts hunters.
•    Don't hide so well that you impair your field of vision.
•    Wrap your turkey in blaze orange for the hike back to the car.
•    Always sit with your back against a tree trunk, big log or a boulder that is wider than your body. This protects you from being accidentally struck by pellets fired from behind you.
•    Place decoys on the far side of a tree trunk or a rock. This prevents you from being directly in the line of fire should another hunter mistakenly shoot at your decoy.
•    Never shoot unless you're absolutely sure of your target. Since only turkeys with beards are legal during the spring season, lack of positive identification could result in shooting an illegal bird, or worse, another hunter.
•    Consider wearing hunter orange while moving from set-up to set-up. Take it off when you are in position.
Remember, only turkeys stalk turkeys! Hunt smart. Hunt safe. Wear orange.

Photo by John Hall