Hunter’s corner: Challenges of spring reflect in decrease in turkey numbers

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 one of Joe Morette's beer drinking turkeys is seen after a stop at the beer trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been feeding his birds beer since 1993 when a turkey knocked over a can of beer left near its fence and started drinking it. He believes it makes the birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

For the Monitor
Published: 6/25/2016 11:54:48 PM

The preliminary results are in and hunters harvested 3,821 turkeys during the spring hunt, which is down by 172 over the 2015 take. This is a preliminary number, as all of the 60 reporting stations have yet to report.

“It was thought that the May 2016 harvest might exceed 4,000 gobblers, but poor hunting weather the first week probably reduced the potential harvest somewhat,” turkey biologist Ted Walski said.

Opening day, May 3, was a foggy morning after a hard rain of 1.25 inches the previous day. It rained most of the next day, amounting to 1.5 inches. It rained again the morning of May 8, and the daily hunt ends at noon.

Another factor reducing the harvest, according to Walski, was the very early green-up. The month of April saw 18 “thawing days” of 50 degrees or greater. By May 17, leaves were budding out on the trees, reducing visibility and absorbing sound to make it more difficult for hunters to see and hear turkeys.

Viewing the season from a different perspective, when you add in all the negatives, it was really a decent year. Another factor owing to the warm weather, the hens were on nests sooner. Last week in Big Ed’s fields, there was a hen with 12 poults. Something startled the poults and 10 of the 12 sought safety in the nearby trees. A hen will lay one egg and the two who still couldn’t fly must have been from the last two eggs she laid.

Most turkey eggs hatch from late May to mid-June. This is why Fish and Game is asking the public’s help in monitoring observation of wild turkey broods through its annual turkey brood survey that runs from June 1 through Aug. 31. Additional information on the survey and how to participate is available at

Women interested in learning outdoor skills in a beautiful setting can sign up for New Hampshire’s “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” weekend workshop, which take place Sept. 9-11 at Rockywold/Deephaven Camps on Squam Lake in Holderness. The workshop fee of $335 includes two-night lodging, plus all meals, instruction and equipment use. Participants must be 18 or older.

Participants select four sessions for more than 30 different outdoor skills workshops, including archery, fishing, fly fishing, camping, field dressing game, hiking, kayaking, rifle, shotgun, nature photography, outdoor survival, campfire cooking, mountain biking, map and compass, and more.

To register, visit and download the “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” fall workshop print and mail registration form. You can also request a registration form at, or by calling 271-3212.

The sale of Unit L antlerless permits was an incredible disaster last year. Fish and Game had outsourced this format to another state and the system totally crashed. You might think Fish and Game would have learned its lesson, but oh no, we are going forward with a new plan using the same failing vender.

The good news is that the number of permits has been increased to 750 from 500 for WMU L. The bad news and really bad news is that they are sold online and online only. If you do not have access to a computer or have a friend with a computer, you are totally out of luck. Last year, it was an embarrassment as people were coming in with multiple applications from friends and Fish and Game did nothing to stop the abuse.

A permit for WMU L will cost $26 if you get through. Sales will begin July 12 at 6 p.m. Note that if you start your online purchase session before 6 p.m. on that date, the WMU permit may not show up in the list of licenses available, and you will need to start over. The expectation is that the permits will sell out extremely quickly if you can get through. You will need your current NH hunting license or archery license number (required for purchase), diver’s license and credit card.

WMU M permits will be available July 14 online or at Fish and Game headquarters. A total of 4,000 hunters will be allowed to purchase the Unit M permits at a cost of $36, which come with two deer tags. Hunters can purchase an L or M permit or both. Both permits will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applicants must hold a current hunting or archery license.

The deadline for contributing to the Fish and Game Nongame Program is coming up on Thursday. The State of New Hampshire offers a $50,000 challenge grant to fund the work of the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, but to qualify Fish and Game must raise an equal amount in private contributions by June 30.

“Habitats matter to you and to wildlife, and to what New Hampshire means as a state. One of the best tools we have to protect habitats that matter most to wildlife is (the) newly revised Wildlife Action Plan,” Nongame Program Supervisor John Kanter said.

Three dozen insects joined a range of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish (169 in all) as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the state’s just published plan. These birds and other wildlife represent the quality and diversity of New Hampshire’s landscape.

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