Interesting assessment of turkeys

If you’re hunting turkeys now (and not many of us are) – and even if you don’t hunt turkeys – you will find this DIF&W assessment of our turkey population interesting. Here it is.

AUGUSTA, Maine – Spring turkey season starts on Monday, April 29 throughout the state, and youth hunters have their own day tomorrow, Saturday, April 27. IFW biologists believe that hunters are in for a successful season.


“The timing of the season seems perfect this year, and if we get some decent weather, we should have a great spring hunt,” said Brad Allen, wildlife biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


Last year was a productive year for nesting turkeys, with favorable drier weather conditions during the spring, which means more turkeys on the landscape this spring.

“Everyone was seeing quite a few birds all last summer, and there are lots of birds out there right now, including a number of jakes, which will make for a productive hunt,” said Allen.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in conjunction with the University of Maine and the National Wild Turkey Federation is now halfway through a three-year study that looks at turkey reproductive success and mortality, and provide more insight into how wild turkeys interact with the landscape.


The department is capturing and placing transmitting collars on turkeys in several areas around the state, then tracking movements, monitoring nesting success and mortalities. The department is also banding birds and asking hunters to call if they take a banded turkey. To date, the department has banded 200 males and 200 females. There also are 75 female and 20 male turkeys that have been fitted with transmitting collars so they can be tracked.

With data from the current study, the department will use seasonal harvest numbers in addition to factors such as weather, turkey productivity, and natural mortality to estimate the population at the Wildlife Management district scale. Maine is divided into 29 wildlife management districts.


The results of the study will enable MDIFW to fine tune it’s wild turkey management system to address publicly derived turkey management goals across the state.

In southern and central Maine, the new model for assessing population trends will help with management of a growing turkey population and the challenges of human/turkey conflicts. With hunting as the primary tool for managing wild turkey populations, a better understanding of what factors influence the turkey population will allow biologists to adjust the harvest of female turkeys in some areas during the fall hunting season by altering bag limits and season lengths more confidently.

If you encounter a turkey with a band or transmitter, please contact the number printed on it to help with the research. With a valid Maine big game or small game hunting license, resident and nonresident turkey hunters can purchase a wild turkey permit for just $20. This permit allows turkey hunters to take up to two bearded wild turkeys in the spring, and an additional two turkeys in the fall. Legal hunting hours for turkey hunting stretch from 1/2 hour before sunrise and 1/2 hour after sunset. The regular spring season runs from April 29 until June 1.

For more information on hunting season dates, times, licenses and bag limits, please refer to the hunting lawbook or visit

The Department strongly encourages all turkey hunters to reach out to landowners before hunting. Please remember to ask first before accessing private land, and respect any and all requests of the landowners.

Wild turkeys are a wildlife success story in Maine. Once gone completely from Maine landscapes, they are now a familiar sight in all Maine’s 16 counties, thanks to a reintroduction and management plan started in the 1970s by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries of Wildlife (MDIFW) preserves, protects, and enhances the inland fisheries and wildlife resources of the state. Established in 1880 to protect big game populations, MDIFW has since evolved in scope to include protection and management of fish, non-game wildlife, and habitats, as well as restoration of endangered species like the bald eagle. In addition to its conservation duties, MDIFW is also responsible for enabling and promoting the safe enjoyment of Maine’s outdoors — from whitewater rafting to boating, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation. The agency’s constituents include the fish, wildlife, and people who call Maine home, as well as the visiting outdoor enthusiasts and ecotourists who call Maine Vacationland and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars each year to the state’s economy.





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.