Spring Turkey Hunt Begins May 3

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A long-awaited opening day for many sportsmen and women will soon be here, as New Hampshire's spring wild turkey hunting season gets underway from May 3 to May 31. Hunting hours during the spring gobbler season are one-half hour before sunrise to noon. Hunters may take one male or bearded turkey by archery or shotgun. A New Hampshire hunting license and $6 turkey permit are required for all hunters 16 years of age and older. (Youth hunters must have a turkey permit, but do not need a license.) Click here to purchase licenses and permits online. This year the weekend before opening day (May 1 and 2) has been designated a youth turkey-hunting weekend reserved for hunters under age 16 guided by a licensed adult.

Pete Lester, Administrator for New Hampshire Fish and Game's Hunter Education Program, offers a simple safety tip that will also increase your chances for being successful: never try to stalk a turkey. "Turkeys are always alert for danger, which makes your chance for a successful stalk very slim. Avoid the temptation to stalk turkeys, because most of the time you will end up stalking another hunter who is trying to decoy the birds." Rather than stalking, Lester advises scouting out a good spot, calling, and waiting for the turkeys to come to you.

Other important turkey-hunting safety tips include: Turkey hunters should always wear a blaze orange hat or vest as they enter and leave the area they are hunting. Avoid wearing clothes with the colors red, white and blue and black, as these colors are present on the male turkey, or gobbler. Blaze orange survey tape around a decoy/calling location can alert other hunters to your presence, and it won't scare the birds. Remember that other hunters may be using a decoy and calling. Never shoot at just a portion of a turkey -- be sure you can see the entire bird to make sure it is not only legal, but also a safe shot.

During New Hampshire's 2003 spring gobbler season, a total of 2,599 turkeys were taken in 206 towns across the state. Hunters took 665 gobblers on the opening day of the season last year. As of August 2003, there were an estimated 25,000 wild turkeys in the state.

For more information on turkey-hunting in New Hampshire, including a brochure on the 2004 hunt, click here.

Hunters can keep turkey hunting safe and enjoyable by following the basic safety rules taught in every Hunter Education class (click here for more information on hunter ed, including a list of available courses and homestudy options). The Ten Commandments of Shooting Safety are:

* Treat every firearm with the same respect due a loaded firearm.
* Control the direction of your firearm's muzzle.
* Be sure of your target and what's beyond it.
* Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.
* Unload firearms when not in use.
* Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot.
* Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log, with a loaded firearm.
* Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or at water.
* Store firearms and ammunition separately.
* Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while shooting.

Hunters can do their part to ensure the future of hunting in New Hampshire by being aware of proper hunting ethics and conduct, including asking landowners for permission to hunt on their land; picking up any litter they may find; being courteous to landowners, other hunters and nonhunters; and sharing the hunting tradition with friends, family and neighbors.

Turkey hunting in New Hampshire is made possible because of successful restoration efforts through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration program.