Spring wild turkey hunting season began Saturday, April 30, with the traditional Youth Day and commenced Monday, May 2, for all licensed hunters with permits.
A notable addition to this spring's hunt is two wildlife management districts in the Downeast area. WMDs 19 and 28 are open to spring wild turkey hunting, but will not be open during the fall hunt.
Also this spring season, hunters will continue to have the opportunity to harvest a second bearded wild turkey, the result of a bag-limit regulation change that was implemented in 2010.
An initial permit for $20 will allow turkey hunters to take only one bearded wild turkey in the spring and a wild turkey of either sex in the fall. A second permit for $20 can be purchased anytime after the purchase of the first permit that would allow for the harvest of another bearded wild turkey in the spring only. Agent fees are not included in permit prices.
Youth Day will be held on Saturday, April 30. Kids over 10 and under 16 with a junior hunting license are allowed to hunt on this day with adult supervision. Youths will be allowed to take up to two (2) bearded wild turkeys during the spring season without any additional permit fees. The resident spring/fall turkey permit and the second spring turkey permit are included in the resident junior hunting license.
The regular season for spring wild turkey hunting opens Monday, May 2 and ends on June 4 in wildlife management districts 7, 10 through 26, and 28. It is open to all hunters who possess a spring/fall wild turkey hunting permit and a valid Maine hunting license that allows hunting of big game. A valid archery license in addition to a spring/fall wild turkey permit allows wild turkey hunting with bow and arrow only.
Legal hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise until noon local time. All harvested turkeys must be registered at a designated tagging station.
A complete description of turkey hunting regulations, WMD descriptions, instructional videos, as well as an informative Turkey Hunter’s Guide can be found at the department’s website at www.mefishwildlife.com .
MDIF&W again will be conducting a spring wild turkey hunter survey to aid in biologists' ability to understand spring turkey hunter effort and experiences. The information will be used to help provide a quality hunting experience. Surveys can be found online at www.mefishwildlife.com .
The opening of two Downeast wildlife management districts to the spring wild turkey hunting season is welcome.
"We started introducing wild turkeys in eastern Hancock and Washington counties back in 2002, resulting in nearly 300 birds being released in the Downeast area," according to Tom Schaeffer, a MDIF&W Regional Wildlife Biologist, based in Jonesboro. "The opportunity to hunt wild turkeys is the result of invested time, money, and cooperation between the Department of Inland of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the Maine state and Downeast Longbeards chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and a number of dedicated volunteers and private landowners."
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife urges hunters to review the following safety tips: