HomeState of NHFish and Game: 2024 Spring Turkey Season opens May 1

Fish and Game: 2024 Spring Turkey Season opens May 1

The Granite State’s spring turkey season opens on May 1 and runs through May 31. The youth turkey hunt takes place the preceding weekend, Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department urges hunters to take advantage of the state’s weather, woodlands, and natural resources this year with hunting safety in mind.

During the 2023 youth weekend, young hunters took 483 turkeys or 8.6% of the total spring harvest. To participate in the youth weekend, hunters must be age 15 or younger and be accompanied by a properly licensed adult age 18 or older. The mentoring adult may not carry a firearm or bow. Youth hunters do not need a hunting license, but they must have a valid turkey permit, which is $16 for residents and $31 for nonresidents. Accompanying adults must hold either a current New Hampshire hunting or archery license and a turkey permit.

“We have had record turkey harvests the past five spring seasons,” said Allison Keating, Fish and Game’s Turkey Project Leader. “While it’s great to see so many hunters have a successful spring season, it is more important than ever to know your target and what lies beyond before taking a shot,” Keating said. Hunters are strongly encouraged to maximize pre-season scouting and be prepared with backup locations if their desired spot is busy with other hunters or outdoor enthusiasts.

During the spring of 2023, hunters harvested 5,580 turkeys statewide. This was a slight decrease from the record-setting harvest of 5,725 set in 2022.

“Last year was a tough breeding season for turkeys in New Hampshire,” Keating said. “Frost during the month of May followed by consistent rain throughout the spring and summer led to many hens re-nesting,” she said. “The average hatch date was about a month later than the previous two years, and the number of poults per hen was lower than the previous two years. The decreased breeding productivity last year may result in a lower spring harvest this year.”

Hunters should be aware of and continue to take precautions to safeguard against the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) detected in avian species in New Hampshire and across the country since last year. HPAI is a virus that occurs mainly in wild birds, but typically does not cause high mortality. The main risk of the virus is to domestic poultry such as chickens, turkeys, quail, and ducks. In New Hampshire, the HPAI virus has previously been detected in a number of waterfowl species, as well as a few bald eagles and other types of birds. No wild turkeys in New Hampshire have yet to test positive for the virus. Hunters are encouraged to take extra precautions including:

  • Do not harvest or handle birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
  • Dress and dispose of game birds in an area away from domestic birds.
  • Wear rubber gloves when field dressing your bird.
  • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer after handling wild birds.
  • Use dedicated tools for processing wild birds, or clean and disinfect tools that may also be used around domestic birds.
  • Disinfect tools using a freshly mixed chlorine solution consisting of 1/3 cup of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Keep uncooked game in a separate container away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook game meat thoroughly. Poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165°F to kill disease organisms and parasites.

To learn more about HPAI, visit Avian Influenza | Wildlife | New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (state.nh.us).

Turkey hunters will continue to have the option to register their harvested birds online or in person at a local registration station. Regardless of registration method, all harvested birds must be affixed with the tag that is issued with the hunter’s turkey license immediately after take, and all birds must be registered within 24 hours. Hunters choosing to harvest two birds in the spring (where permitted) must register their first bird prior to taking a second bird. To learn more about registering your harvest visit https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/turkey-reg.html.

Spring turkey hunters interested in harvesting two male or bearded birds may take one bird statewide and the other may only be taken in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) H1, H2, I1, J2, K, L, or M. The first bird must be legally registered before another bird can be harvested.

Turkey hunters who harvest a second bird during the spring season forfeit their chance to take a bird during the statewide fall archery and shotgun seasons. The fall shotgun season is restricted to designated WMUs. Read about all regulations in the NH Hunting Digestwildlife.nh.gov/hunting-nh.

People who would like to try hunting turkeys this spring and were unable to complete Hunter Education should consider the Apprentice Hunting License. This license allows those age 16 and older interested in trying hunting to do so under the guidance of an experienced hunter without first taking Hunter Education. Learn more at www.huntnh.com/hunting/apprentice.html or call (603) 271-3422 for more information.

Licenses are available online at https://www.nhfishandgame.com or from license agents that are open at this time.

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