This fall, turkey hunters will get an extra opportunity to hunt gobblers, thanks to a new fall shotgun season that will run from October 13th through the 19th.
The first modern wild turkey hunt was in 1986 when the department issued 500 permits through a lottery, and nine turkeys were harvested. The lottery system continued until 2006, when the spring turkey hunt was opened to all licensed hunters. A limited fall archery hunt was instituted in 2002. In the four seasons since then, interest in the fall archery hunt has grown, and the turkey population has continued to grow.
This year, there will be a fall shotgun season from October 13 through October 19. During that period, turkeys may be hunted with a shotgun in Wildlife Management Districts 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25. Hunters must purchase a permit to hunt wild turkey during the fall season. There is a one turkey bag limit for each fall turkey permit holder. Shotgun gauges 10 through 20 using shot sizes 4 through 6 inclusive may be used to hunt wild turkey in during the fall season.
The reintroduction of wild turkeys in Maine is an unqualified success story. Turkeys existed in significant numbers in York and Cumberland counties, and perhaps eastward to Hancock county. Reduction of forestland and unrestricted hunting are considered to be the two main reasons for the disappearance of wild turkeys in Maine in the early 1880s. Since that time, much of Maine's farmland, which covered 90% of York and Cumberland counties, has reverted back to forest. This change of agriculture fields to forested land created suitable habitat for reintroducing the wild turkey.
Wild turkeys were reintroduced In 1977 and 1978, when IFW obtained 41 Wild Turkeys from Vermont and released them in the towns of York and Eliot. In Spring 1982, 33 turkeys were trapped from the growing York County population and released in Waldo County. During the winters of 1987 and 1988, 70 Wild Turkeys were obtained from Connecticut to augment Maine's growing turkey population.