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Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1 in New Hampshire

CONTACT: Allison Keating: (603) 271-2461 Dan Bergeron: (603) 271-1126 April 16, 2021

Concord, NH –The Granite State’s spring turkey hunt will open on May 1 and run through May 31, with the youth turkey hunt taking place the preceding weekend, Saturday, April 24, and Sunday, April 25. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG) urges hunters to take advantage of the state’s weather, woodlands, and natural resources this year with hunting safety in mind.

Hunters should be aware of the increased number of people recreating in the outdoors this spring—it is more important than ever to be absolutely sure of your target and what lies beyond it. Hunters are strongly encouraged to maximize pre-season scouting and to be prepared with back-up locations if their desired spot is busy with other outdoor enthusiasts during the spring turkey season.

NHFG continues to work with many registration locations throughout the state to provide local resources for hunters to register their birds. However, some registration stations may currently be closed, have limited hours, or be experiencing other restrictions due to COVID, so hunters planning to register their harvest in person should confirm that their registration station of preference will be operating during the spring 2021 turkey season. For a list of all the registration stations in New Hampshire visit https://wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/deer-check-stations.html. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the public health emergency, this list may not be up-to-date and hunters are again reminded to call ahead if they choose to register their turkey at a physical station.

Hunters will also be able to register their birds online again and must do so within 24 hours of harvest. The tag that is issued with the hunter’s turkey license must be affixed to the bird, and the first harvested bird must be legally registered prior to harvesting a second bird in those Wildlife Management Units where two spring birds are permitted. Prior to starting the online registration process, hunters should have the following information readily available:

  • Hunting/turkey license information
  • License plate number of the vehicle used while hunting
  • Town and Wildlife Management Unit where the turkey was harvested
  • Sex of the bird
  • Age of the bird (adult vs. juvenile)
  • Weight of the bird (to the nearest 1/4 pound)
  • Beard length (to the nearest 1/4 inch)
  • Spur lengths (to the nearest 1/16 inch)

Successful online registration will result in a confirmation page upon completion, which must be immediately printed or saved to mobile devices as a screen shot. Hunters must retain a copy of this confirmation as proof that their turkey was legally registered online. Accurately entered registration data is imperative because the information is used by wildlife biologists and Conservation Officers who depend upon its accuracy.

For those who will register their spring turkeys online, tips on how to age, weigh, and measure birds can be found at https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/turkey-reg.html.

No other changes have been made to the spring 2021 turkey season. Bag limit changes initiated in 2019 remain in effect, and spring turkey hunters can harvest two male or bearded birds. One bird can be taken statewide and the other may only be taken in WMUs H1, H2, 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 fall bird during either the statewide fall archery season OR during the 7-day fall shotgun season. The fall shotgun season is restricted to WMUs D2, G, H1, H2, I1, I2, J1, J2, K, L, and M. The fall season allows for the taking of one bird of either sex.

People who would like to try hunting turkeys this spring and were unable to complete Hunter Education due to class cancellations associated with COVID-19 or for any other reason should consider the Apprentice Hunting License. This license allows those 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.

A New Hampshire turkey license is required for hunters of all ages ($16 for state residents and $31 for nonresidents). Hunters age 16 and older must hold either a current New Hampshire hunting or archery license and a turkey permit. Licenses are available online at https://www.nhfishandgame.com or from license agents that are open at this time. All rules and regulations associated with New Hampshire’s spring turkey season remain in effect and will be enforced.

About 20,000 people participate in turkey hunting in New Hampshire out of a total of approximately 60,000 hunters in the state. Last year, spring turkey hunters harvested 5,092 birds. See turkey harvest by town and Wildlife Management Unit in the newly published 2020 NH Wildlife Harvest Summary, available at www.wildnh.com/hunting/harvest-summary.html (select 2020).

Hunters can help monitor the state’s flocks for West Nile virus this spring. New Hampshire will be participating in a regional effort to document the levels of West Nile virus present in wild turkeys this year. NHFG is asking willing hunters to collect blood samples from their harvested turkeys this spring. Those interested in participating should contact the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Region 4 office by calling 603-352-9669 or emailing reg4@wildlife.nh.gov to request that a sampling kit be mailed to them.

Declining population trends in ruffed grouse across their eastern range has led numerous state wildlife agencies to initiate research to assess the effect of West Nile virus on this species. Preliminary results suggest ruffed grouse are highly susceptible to West Nile virus, however the effects of the virus on wild turkeys are unknown. While the turkey population in New Hampshire remains stable, data collected through this effort will further wild turkey management efforts on a broader, regional level. All hunters who are passionate about the long-term health of the Granite State’s eastern wild turkey population are encouraged to participate this year during the spring or fall seasons. Collected blood samples will be supplied to the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Project for testing. To learn more visit Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study.