Regular Season Begins April 18
ANNAPOLIS (April 7, 2008) Marylands statewide spring turkey hunting season will begin on Saturday, April 12 with a one-day Junior Turkey Hunt. The five-week regular turkey season will open on Friday, April 18 and continue through May 23.
Wild turkey restoration is one of the greatest conservation success stories in Maryland, stated Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Upland Gamebird Project Leader, Bob Long. A 30-year trap-and-transfer effort lead by DNR and supported by the National Wild Turkey Federation and others brought these great birds back from record low levels. Today more than 30,000 turkeys roam the state, providing countless hours of outdoor recreation for Marylanders.
DNR surveys show that wild turkey reproductive success has been average or below-average the past few summers. The result has been a stabilization or slight decline in turkey populations in many areas of the state. Turkeys are present in every Maryland county, but the highest densities occur in the western region, portions of southern Maryland, and on the Eastern Shore.
Although hunters may need to work harder this year to find a cooperative gobbler, they should keep in mind that turkey populations and spring turkey hunting opportunities were very limited years ago, added Long.
The first spring season in Maryland was held in 1970 when total of 33 turkeys were taken. Annual harvests have increased to regularly exceed 2,500 gobblers in recent years.
Adults are encouraged to take a young hunter afield on the Junior Turkey Hunt day on April 12, said Long. Hunting is a great way to teach youth about the outdoors and allows them connect with nature and learn responsible hunting practices.
The one-day Junior Turkey Hunt allows hunters aged 16 or younger to hunt wild turkeys when accompanied by an unarmed adult of at least 21 years of age. Both participants must possess a valid hunting license or be exempt from Maryland hunting license requirements.
Many public properties across Maryland boast excellent wild turkey populations, said Long. While hunters may find heavy hunting pressure on some public lands, especially on opening day and the first Saturday, most public lands receive less hunting pressure as the season progresses, making it an enjoyable time to hunt this magnificent bird.
Although turkey hunting accidents are rare in Maryland, DNR and the Natural Resource Police urge all turkey hunters to practice safe and ethical hunting this spring. Hunters should always positively identify their target as a bearded turkey and also eliminate the colors of a gobblers head, red, blue, and white, from your clothing while hunting. Hunters are also encouraged to wear a fluorescent orange cap while moving and tie an orange ribbon around a nearby tree while calling.
Complete regulations and turkey registration procedures can be found online at http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide or in the 2007-2008 Hunting & Trapping Guide, issued with each hunting license.
Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)