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Hunters Corner: Keeping an eye out for turkeys

Turkey broods will soon be appearing, and Fish and Game is requesting your help in tracking them in New Hampshire this spring and summer. If you happen to observe groups of turkeys with young between May 15 and Aug. 31, report your sightings to Fish and Game at

“People enjoy participating, and by doing so, they are helping us monitor the turkey population,” Turkey Project Leader Ted Walski said. “We get reports from all over the sate through this survey, adding to the important information biologists gather on turkey productivity, distribution, abundance, turkey brood survival and timing of nesting and hatching.”

Last year summer brood survey participants reported seeing some 1,119 turkey broods. Biologists are especially interested in getting more reports in the three northernmost New Hampshire counties (Coos, Carroll and Grafton).

The term “brood” refers to a family group of young turkeys accompanied by a hen. New Hampshire hens generally begin laying eggs sometime from mid-April to early May and complete their clutch of about 12 eggs in early to mid-May. Incubation lasts for 28 days and most eggs hatch from late May to mid-June. If the incubating turkey eggs are destroyed or consumed by predators, hens often lay a replacement clutch of eggs that hatch in late June through late July.

Reports of adult male turkeys are not being requested at this time.

Turkey populations depend on a large annual influx of young turkeys to sustain themselves over time, so the number of young turkeys that survive to be “recruited” into the fall population is of great interest to turkey managers. A large sample of turkey brood observations collected throughout the summer can provide turkey managers with insight into the size of the “graduating class” of turkeys that will become adults. This explains why turkey managers throughout the country use information from brood surveys in their management programs.

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We are about to enter the best animal viewing time of the year. In most cases, newborns appear to be abandoned, but they are not. Some even appear to need help, but the kindest thing to do is to leave them alone and let nature take its course. Reports have already begun coming in to Fish and Game and local wildlife rehabilitators from people who have picked up young animals, often mistakenly thinking they are orphans.

“Picking up fawns, baby raccoons or young animals is an error in judgment,” Fish and Wildlife Programs Supervisor Kent Gustafson said. “What should you do if you find a young animal? Give wildlife plenty of space and leave them alone and in the wild, where they belong. This hands-off and keep-your-distance policy also applies to bear cubs and moose calves. It’s worth noting that sows and cows can and do actively protect their young. In any case, if you’re lucky enough to see a deer fawn, bear calf, moose calf or other wildlife, count your blessings and leave the area.”

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One of the fondest memories I have growing up was when my dad would take me and my brother fishing. Fresh water or saltwater, it didn’t make any difference. June 1 is free fishing day in New Hampshire, so dust off your fishing gear and head for the water. You don’t need a license that day; state residents and nonresidents alike can fish any of New Hampshire’s inland and salt water. Please note the exception is anglers fishing for brood stock Atlantic salmon in the Merrimack and lower Pemigewasset rivers must have a fishing license along with a special Atlantic salmon brood stock permit.

Also on June 1, New Hampshire’s six state fish hatcheries will be open to visitors from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Stop in and see where the state raises more than a million trout each year that are stocked into New Hampshire’s rivers, lakes and ponds. Hatcheries are located at Berlin, Milford, New Hampton, New Durham, Twin Mountain and Warren. Free fishing day kicks off National Fishing and Boating Week in New Hampshire (June 1-8).

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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