Vermont’s spring turkey hunting starts soon

REGION – It’s almost time for spring turkey hunting in Vermont. Youth spring turkey hunting weekend is April 28 and 29 this year, and the regular spring turkey season is May 1-31.

turkey hunting
Vermont Fish & Wildlife re-established our native wild turkeys when it released 31 wild birds from New York in 1969 and 1970. Today, Vermont has an estimated wild turkey population of 45,000 to 60,000. Photo by John Hall.

Vermont hunters set an all-time record last year when they took 6,599 turkeys in the spring youth weekend and May seasons. The previous spring record occurred in 2013 when 6,365 birds were taken in the spring.

The April 28 and 29 youth turkey hunting weekend provides an excellent opportunity for experienced hunters to teach young hunters how to safely and successfully hunt wild turkeys.

“Beyond the simple joy of sharing an outdoor adventure of this sort with a young friend, experienced hunters can take satisfaction in knowing they’ve introduced these youths to some of the most exciting and rewarding hunting the state has to offer,” said Chris Bernier, Vermont’s wild turkey biologist. “Coupled with the thrill of ‘talking’ to a gobbler, the typically high success rates turkey hunters achieve and the often pleasant spring weather they experience, the youth turkey hunt is one of the best ways to introduce youths to the benefits of a life-long pursuit of hunting.”

Landowner permission is required to hunt on private land during youth turkey hunting weekend. To participate, a youth must be age 15 or under and must have completed a hunter education course and possess a hunting license, a turkey hunting license, and a free youth turkey hunting tag. All of these are available on Fish & Wildlife’s website or from any license agent.

The youth must be accompanied by an unarmed licensed adult over 18 years of age. Shooting hours for the youth weekend are one half hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. The youth may take one bearded turkey during youth weekend and two bearded turkeys in the regular May hunting season. Last year, young hunters took 745 turkeys during the two-day youth hunt with a success rate of 33 percent.

The regular spring turkey hunting season is May 1-31. Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to noon, and two bearded turkeys may be taken.

A shotgun or archery equipment may be used in the youth or regular spring turkey hunting seasons. Shot size must be no larger than number 2 and no smaller than number 8.

The success rate last year during the May season was 29 percent, and of those successful hunters, 38 percent harvested a second bird under the two-bird limit.

The 2017 Turkey Harvest Report, available on the website, has details to help plan a turkey hunt, including the number of turkeys taken in each town.

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