First Ever Youth Turkey Hunt for 2004

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New Hampshire will have its first-ever youth turkey hunting weekend this year on May 1 and 2, the weekend before the spring gobbler season gets underway. As during the spring gobbler season, hunting hours are only in the morning -- one-half hour before sunrise to noon. Hunters may take one male or bearded turkey by archery or shotgun. Bird registration is required within 12 hours.

Youth hunters (under age 16) must have a turkey permit in order to participate, although they do not need to have a hunting license. They must be accompanied by a properly licensed, unarmed adult. An adult may guide two youths on the hunt, although the Department suggests taking a single youth would be more prudent for beginners.

"The youth weekend is a good opportunity to introduce young people, with the careful guidance of an experienced adult, to an exciting hunting opportunity here in New Hampshire," said Mark Ellingwood, wildlife programs administrator for Fish and Game. "The gobbler season occurs during a beautiful time of year. Whether it's the silent padding of mysterious feet before sunrise, the scent of wildflowers as the sun peeks over the horizon to warm the forest floor, or the thunderous roar of a gobbling turkey on a distant ridge, the experience is unforgettable. These experiences help build bonds that can last a lifetime and provide an opportunity for our citizens to take advantage of what is arguably our most significant wildlife restoration success story -- the re-establishment of wild turkeys in New Hampshire."

People have always been able to take kids hunting during regular hunting seasons, but the youth weekend sets aside a special quiet time with less competition in the woods, where the focus is safety and education for young hunters. The regular spring gobbler-hunting season in New Hampshire runs from May 3-31.

A hunter education course is required for all first-time hunting license holders in New Hampshire, so if you're planning to take a youth hunting or want to get out for spring gobbler season yourself, sign up now to make sure you have fulfilled this requirement. Hunter education is not required for youth participating in the weekend hunt, although the classes, which cover a range of topics including firearms safety, game trailing and care, outdoor survival skills and hunter ethics, are a good idea for young hunters -- or anyone who needs a refresher -- in addition to first-time license holders. Fees for the class are no more than $2. Fish and Game hunter education classes are made possible by funds from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program.