Hunter’s Corner: Turkey season could be one for the record books

For the Monitor
Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The early April weather was perfect for facilitating green up. This was just the elixir the deer and bear population needed. The green grass is an excellent food source for both. At dusk and dawn check out the hillside on 393. I have seen a group of four feasting on the tender green shoots that are on the hillside. Deer are on a cycle and while they won’t be there every day, the grass will be an enticement to come back.

There have been several large flocks of turkeys that have been spotted in the greater Concord area. The April snow may have slowed down the mating process to the benefit of turkey hunters when the turkey season opens on Wednesday. In each group, there was a significant tom but it’s mostly hens. Ticks should be a nuisance this year but if you dress appropriately and treat your clothing with Sawyers you will be ahead of the game. The first three days of the season offer the best opportunity to bag a gobbler. As the season wears on, the hens nest up and the toms go into a silent mode.

Ted Walski has already predicted the 2017 turkey season to be a potential record setter and I enthusiastically concur. There are seven award categories for Fish and Game Awards of Excellence. Ted Walski received this year’s Ellis R. Hatch Jr. Commission Award of Excellence, and I might add, it’s about time. While Walski’s legacy as the turkey biologist is widely known, there are a few details about this restoration that people may not know.

In the 1970s, when the turkey project was starting, Fish and Game did not have regional offices around the state. The regional office concept did not come into play until after the central office was lost due to a fire. Walski bought a trailer from a local farmer. He towed it to the state barn in Alstead and parked it there. He put a Fish and Game sticker on it and that became his office.

When the department needed to buy radio telemetry equipment to keep track of the turkeys, the national Turkey Federation did a fundraiser by selling Christmas trees. The trees were purchased from the Sebago Tree Company in Colebrook, by Walski, with his own money.

In 1980, a total of 750 permits were issued by lottery and 31 wild were harvested. In 2015, a total of 19,659 turkey tags were sold and 5,048 turkeys were harvested.

While all Excellence Award Winners have achieved a level worthy of recognition, none so as much as the Communications Award of Excellence winner, Bill Carney of Bow. Carney writes for the Hawkeye Hunting and Fishing News. His articles keep outdoor sports enthusiasts abreast of fishing, hunting, outdoor recreation and legislative issues.

Carney has been described as one who “uses his skill and wit to look out for the best interests of New Hampshire sportsmen and sportswomen.”

New Hampshire has nearly 1,000 fishable lakes and 12,000 miles of rivers and streams. Many have special restrictions. Lucas Pond in Northwood is a 40-acre trout pond which is a no motors pond. Saltmarsh Pond in Gilford is a 40-acre trout pond and an electric motor only pond; no wake. Locally, Hot Hole Pond is a 27-acre trout pond with a no wake rule. Other restriction includes no petroleum motors and no motors. There are many ponds and streams that are designated fly fishing only.

To know the rules, you will need a copy of New Hampshire Freshwater Fishing 2017 Digest. It is a great resource document that will keep you on the good side of the law.

Now that I have tempted you with some of the fishing opportunities that are available, June 3 is free fishing day. Residents and non-residents can fish anywhere in New Hampshire; freshwater or saltwater for free. All other fishing regulations must be followed, including season dates and bag limits.

“Free Fishing Day is a great opportunity for anglers to take someone interested in ‘testing the waters’ or for friends and families to plan a day enjoying the outdoors together,” Inland Fisheries Chief Jason Smith said. “They are sure to be hooked after a relaxing day of fishing.”

The major prizes have been set for the 34th annual Winni Derby. The winning salmon caught will be rewarded with a well-equipped tracker boat. The winning lake trout caught will be rewarded with an ATV. The derby will be held on May 19-21. Online registration can be had here. Tickets are available at A.J.’s Bait and Tackle, Meredith; Alton Circle Grocery, Alton; Hole in the Wall, Wolfeboro; L.L. Cote Sports Center, Errol; Martel’s Bait & Sport Shop, Laconia; Wildlife Sport Outfitters, Manchester; and Winnisquam Market & Deli, Tilton.

Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.