Out in the turkey woods is the place to be

By V. Paul Reynolds

I’ll never forget it. In the hardwoods at daybreak on a ridge in Granby, MA many years ago, I heard my first Tom turkey gobble. The vocalization of this wild turkey shattered the pre-dawn quiet. The sound was jarring. It gave me goosebumps. In the floating mist and the half light there was something chilling and mystical about this almost prehistoric mating call.

If you enjoy the outdoors and wild things, you must get yourself in the turkey woods early in the morning during spring mating season.

The Maine turkey season opened on April 27 with Youth Day and followed with the general opener on Monday, April 29. You have until June first to harvest your birds. If you hunt in the southern wildlife management districts you can take two bearded turkeys during the season. Check your law book.

If you are a Maine resident and don’t hold a lifetime license, you will need a special turkey permit, which covers you for both the spring and fall hunt. The turkey permits are $20.

Once again, hunters have the option to self-register a turkey online or in-person at a registration station. To self-register a turkey online, hunters may use a phone, computer, or any electronic device with internet connection. If a hunter has poor internet connection, they must attach a transportation label (with their name, license number, and address) and drive to a location with better internet connection. Once self-registered, hunters will receive a seal number via email to confirm that the wild turkey was registered. The confirmation can be saved to the device or printed. There is no fee to self-register a turkey online.

According to the MDIF&W, you will need the following information to self-register a turkey online: 

  • MOSES ID (found on your hunting license)
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Current hunting license
  • Current turkey permit if not included in license
  • Current email address

The link to self-register a turkey online will be available  beginning on youth day. 

Hunters who prefer to register their harvest in-person at a registration station are encouraged to do so. A state list of tagging stations is available on the MDIF&W website.

Depending on the harshness of the Maine winter, Maine’s turkey population is said to be about 70,000. State wildlife biologists and veteran turkey hunters expect good turkey numbers this spring, especially because of relatively low snow depths this past winter.

Hunters are reminded that hunter safety protocol dictates the strict avoidance of these colors when turkey hunting: red, white and blue. If you have ever seen the colorful head of a Tom  turkey in full mating strut you know why to avoid wearing the patriotic colors. For safety reasons, stalking a wild turkey is not a wise practice either. Sitting still and calling is always the best practice.

Oh, by the way, there is no better way to introduce a youngster to hunting than a day spent in the turkey woods!

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books. Online purchase information is available at www.sportingjournal.com, Outdoor Books.

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