Spring Turkey Season Opens With Youth Day On April 15

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Maryland’s statewide spring turkey hunting season will begin on Saturday April 15 with the 1-day Junior Turkey Hunt day. The 5-week regular turkey season will open on Tuesday April 18 and continue through May 23.

Adult mentors are encouraged to take a young hunter afield on the Junior Turkey Hunt day. Junior hunters and their mentors can expect turkey gobbling activity to be at its peak during their hunt. This one-day hunt allows hunters aged 16 or younger to hunt wild turkeys when accompanied by an unarmed adult at least 21 years of age. Both hunters must possess a valid hunting license or be exempt from Maryland hunting license requirements.

Bob Long, Wild Turkey Project Leader for DNR, said: “Wild turkey populations are near record levels throughout most of Maryland, so this season should be exciting and productive for many hunters.” The highest densities of turkeys can be found in the western mountains as well as portions of the Eastern Shore. However, hunters should not overlook non-traditional areas, Long added. A 30-year restoration effort spearheaded by DNR with assistance from conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has resulted in well-established turkey populations in every county in the state.

Although turkey hunting accidents are rare in Maryland, the NWTF and DNR urges all turkey hunters to practice safe and ethical hunting this spring. Make sure you positively identify your target as bearded turkey and eliminate the colors of a gobbler - black, red, blue, and white - from your clothing. Hunters are also strongly encouraged to wear a fluorescent orange cap while moving and tie an orange ribbon around a nearby tree while calling.

Successful hunters must register their turkey by calling 1-888-800-0121 or through the internet www.gamecheck.dnr.state.md.us. Before moving the turkey from place of kill, hunters must immediately attach a field tag on the turkey’s leg and record the harvest on their Maryland Big Game Harvest Record portion of their hunting license. Both forms must be completed in ink. Upon registering the turkey, hunters will be given a confirmation number that is recorded on the Big Game Harvest Record. Detailed instructions for this registration process are located on pages 28 – 29 of the 2005 – 2006 Guide to Hunting & Trapping in Maryland that is issued to hunters when they purchase a hunting license.

Additional information concerning Maryland turkey hunting regulations and public land opportunities can also be found in the Guide to Hunting & Trapping or on DNR’s website: www.dnr.state.md.us. Further information about the NWTF can be found on NWTF’s website: www.nwtf.org.