Maine is not a target of the nation’s turkey hunters

2012 turkey with DadBitten by the turkey bug? Here’s a cross-country tour of five favorite escapes ideal for adventurous longbeard fanatics.

That was the lead on a “Favorite Turkey Hunts” in the April edition of Bowhunting World magazine.

Despite the fact that Maine probably offers the best turkey hunt in the country, we’re on nobody’s radar, a stunning example of how much our lack of marketing and promotion is costing the state’s outdoor industry.

In January of 2012, a Task Force directed by the legislature to study the decline in the number of nonresident hunters coming to Maine, issued its report and recommendations. Among the Task Force’s findings were these:

  1. Numbers of Maine nonresident hunters have dropped from a high in 2002 of 41,538 to 37,925 in 2005 to an all-time low of 27,898 in 2010.
  2. Numbers of alien hunters have dropped from a high in 1995 of 1885 to 232 in 2010.

I recently obtained the 2012 license numbers. That year 23,334 nonresident hunters and 281 aliens purchased hunting licenses. The numbers for 2013 are not yet available.

Among the Task Force’s recommendations were these: Develop collaborative marketing strategies with Maine Office of Tourism to target the nonresident hunter audience. They called for annual marketing plans, surveys of nonresident hunters, marketing tools and training for Maine’s hunting industry, advertising “Maine’s world class resources, ease of access, available and open lands, and outdoor experiences,” and lots more.

Most telling, the Task Force recommended, “Species other than moose, deer and bear must be promoted; emphasizing turkey, waterfowl, upland birds, rabbits and coyotes.”

None of these recommendations were implemented.

According to Bowhunting World, the best places to hunt turkeys this spring are Nebraska, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and, GASP! – New York.

Sad. Very sad.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.