Turkey Hunting Starts May 1

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Vermont has some of the best turkey hunting in New England, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Last year hunters took a record 4,649 turkeys in the two-day spring youth and regular May 1-31 seasons.

What makes Vermont's spring gobbler season special? Vermont's hunting is statewide during the spring hunting 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.

Prospects for this year's May turkey hunting season are excellent, according to Doug Blodgett, the biologist who chairs Vermont's turkey management team.

"We are seeing good-sized flocks of turkeys in good habitat as far north as the Canadian Border," said Blodgett. "Having the hunting season open statewide is a great achievement, especially considering that this bird is on the northern fringe of its range in North America. There is plenty of room with a statewide season for hunters to locate good hunting areas."

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 40,000 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. 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, 103 South Main Street, Waterbury, VT 05601-0501. Telephone them at 802-241-3700 or check in at their website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). The 2005 Turkey Harvest Summary with the number of turkeys taken in each town is posted under "Hunting and Trapping" - "Big Game." Licenses are available on their website and at more than 350 agents statewide.

For information on guides, go to www.voga.org, the Vermont Outdoor Guides Association. For places to stay, check in at www.vermontvacation.com.