Rhode Island Spring Turkey Hunt Was Outstanding

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The Department of Environmental Management has released the results of Rhode Island's 2006 spring turkey season. Turkey hunters harvested 234 birds during the month-long hunt, a 13 percent increase over the 207 birds taken during the 2005 season. The harvest included six birds taken during the two-day junior hunter and paraplegic hunter seasons. A total of 82 juvenile turkeys and 152 adult turkeys were harvested. The 2006 season was also a safe season, with no hunting accidents occurring. The hunter success rate was 20 percent.

"The restoration of the wild turkey continues to be a major success story in Rhode Island, with turkey hunters enjoying excellent hunting opportunities," said Brian Tefft, principal wildlife biologist at DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife. "This year's increase in harvest follows two consecutive years of decline from a record high of 275 birds taken during the 2003 season. Overall, hunting success during the 2006 spring gobbler season was outstanding."

Turkeys were harvested in 20 communities. The top five towns in harvest were Exeter (30), Burrillville (20), Scituate (19), Glocester (18) and Richmond (17). Private lands accounted for a majority of the harvested birds (87 percent); however, 27 birds were taken on 12 different state wildlife management areas. Arcadia Wildlife Management Area in Exeter and Carolina Wildlife Management Area in Richmond were the top producing state land areas. The first week of the season accounted for 53 percent of the harvest (125 birds), with another 20 percent taken during the second week.

Several large gobblers were harvested during the season, including 71 birds that weighed in at over 20 pounds. The average live weight for juveniles was 14.5 pounds, and the average live weight for adults was 21.4 pounds. The largest bird weighed was a three-year-old 24.5-pound gobbler with one-inch spurs and 11-inch beard, harvested on private land in Coventry. The state record is a 25.5-pound gobbler taken in 2001 in Exeter. Seven multi-bearded birds were harvested, all double-bearded.