Expansion of turkey hunt draws criticism

Even though only 5000 people hunt turkeys in the fall, DIF&W’s move to expand that hunt is drawing criticism. I guess those hunters want those turkeys all for themselves.

For the fall hunt the department is proposing to expand both the days to hunt and the bag limits in 10 WMDs. At the end of this column I will give you the department’s summary and analysis of the new rules.

At the legislature this session, Sen. Shenna Bellows worked with me on a bill to get rid of the turkey hunting permit and fee, expand the bag limit, and get rid of the tagging requirement. The department stepped up to agree to an expanded hunt in the fall but refused to get rid of the permit and fee or the tagging requirement.

The legislatures IFW committee carried over our bill to next year’s session, to give the department time to further consider these changes.

I don’t really expect the changes in this fall’s hunt to attract a lot more turkey hunters or result in a much higher harvest, and if I’m right, DIF&W will have to consider getting rid of the permit and fee in the fall if they really want more hunters and a higher harvest.

Now here’s the information from DIF&W.

Analysis and Expected Operation of the Rule

This rule will open the spring wild turkey hunting season in Wildlife Management Districts 1 through 6 to all hunters for the entirety of the season by eliminating the split A/B season based on even and odd birth years; will expand the regular fall wild turkey hunting season by starting on the Monday closest to the 17th of September and running to November 7; open a youth only wild turkey hunting day in the fall on the Saturday preceding the first day of the regular fall wild turkey hunting season; increase the fall wild turkey hunting season bag limit in Wildlife Management Districts 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 from 2 to 5 birds, of which can be either male or female; increase the fall wild turkey hunting season bag limit in Wildlife Management District 26 from 1 to 3 birds, of which can be either male or female, and expand the options for shotgun gauges and shot size legal for wild turkey hunting to include shotgun gauges 10 through 28, and .410 with the use of shot sizes 7 through 9 in Tungsten super shot (TSS).

Brief summary of relevant information considered during development of the rule

Input from regional biologists and harvest rates indicate that overall, turkey numbers in Maine have been stable to increasing in some areas of the state and could sustain an increased harvest and participation. Non-toxic, denser than lead shot size options are becoming more available in various shotgun shell gauges that are effective in harvesting wild turkeys. These options allow smaller gauge shotguns for youth hunters to pursue wild turkeys. The department also recognizes the need to reeducate wild turkey hunters on recommended shot sizes, load densities and chokes that the most effective.




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, georgesmithmaine.com, 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.