Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Zones and Dates:

Zone 1 (Archery Only): (WMD’s 15, 16, 17, 20, 24, 25, 26) – October 19, 2010 through October 23, 2010

Zone 2 (Archery Only): (WMD’s 21, 22, 23) – September 30, 2010 through October 29, 2010

Zone 3 (Archery & Shotgun): (WMD’s 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25) – October 16, 2010 through October 22, 2010

Know hens from gobblers

Do not encourage family members or friends to go turkey hunting unless they have observed Wild Turkeys so they can readily distinguish between females (hens) and males (toms, gobblers, or jakes). Remember, older adult hens can develop beards too. It is highly advisable to attend a turkey hunting seminar and watch films or videos about turkeys. Every hen killed during May potentially represents 12 young that won’t hatch. If a person doesn’t know a hen from a gobbler, he/she should not be turkey hunting.

There is little excuse for shooting a hen as the hunter is playing the part of the hen and making calls to get some toms to come to him/her. In the process of calling and waiting for the tom to come to his/her concealed position, the hunter will most likely hear the males gobble a number of times. Further, there is a high probability of seeing the toms displaying and fanning their tails. Even so, it is not unusual for a hen to be seen feeding alone or accompanied by one or more toms.

The regulations read “one bearded turkey” is legal game. The beard is often small and hard to see on young males (jakes). Sometimes it is broken off. Other times, trees or brush obscure the view of the beard. The majority of males in the population do not have long beards (5 to 12 inches), but rather are “jakes” or one-year-old males (2 to 4 inch beards). In this case, the beard is not easy to see and may protrude only an inch from the breast feathers. Approximately 4% of adult hens will have thin beards that can be 6 to 8 inches long. These hens are valuable because they are generally experienced breeders and nesters, and hunters are encouraged not to shoot these bearded hens.

A major characteristic of males is the very pronounced red, white, and blue head coloration of the displaying tom. The white skull cap on the tom is very obvious and the wattles (reddish skin area) on the male’s neck are more pronounced than on the hen. The hen has a smaller, bluish-gray head with more small feathers covering it. Males are much larger, darker colored and have spurs on their legs.

The sex of a turkey “in-hand” is readily apparent. Look at a small feather from the chest or upper back. All males have a black band at the tip of the feather. Hens have a black band toward the end of the feather, but also have a narrow 1/8″ to 1/4″ band of buffy-brown beyond the black band.

Know how to identify a hen from a tom. Pre-season scouting and observing several birds will help.

Turkey calls

* Yelp – The most common and basic turkey call is a “yelp.” Yelps consist of a series of two-note “kee-yuk” calls that hens emit in a rhythmic fashion, typically repeated five to seven times, but often much more. The three most common types of yelps are: the tree yelp, the plain yelp, and the lost call, or assembly call of a lost hen.

* Tree Yelp – Early in the morning, while still on the roost, Wild Turkeys sometimes emit a soft three to four note yelp. This call functions as a form of communication between birds while on the roost. Hunters might use this call as a signal to turkeys that there are other birds roosted nearby.

* Plain Yelp – This is emitted by turkeys while in the trees or on the ground. It is longer (sometimes more than 10 syllables or notes) and much louder (heard more than 200 meters or 660 feet away) than the tree yelp. It is believed that birds use this call later in the day in order to keep the flock together. When effectively imitated by hunters in the spring, the plain yelp can attract gobblers.

* Lost Call – The lost call or yelp is a long call having as many as 30 notes or syllables. Louder and lower in pitch than the plain yelp, it is characterized by urgent tonal inflections. This call is used mostly in the fall to re-group a scattered flock.

* Cluck – The cluck is a single-note call, which is more abrupt and less musical than a yelp. Similar in function to the yelp, the cluck attracts the attention of turkeys at a distance and helps keep the flock together.

* Purr – The purr is usually described as a one-second-long, soft, medium-pitched sound. This low level purring is often emitted by members of a contented, undisturbed flock, particularly when they are feeding.

* Cackle – The cackle is a rapid succession of loud, high-pitched staccato sounds that may vary in tone and rhythm. This call is often emitted by hens when they are flying into or out of the roost.

* Putt – If the flock is disturbed, the cluck may change to a louder putt call or to a very loud putting, which expresses aggression or fear. Using this call will usually alarm turkeys rather than attract them.

* Cutt – When a turkey repeats a series of excited clucks it is referred to as “cutting.” This call is most often used in the spring.

* Kee-Kee – This consists of a series of very high-pitched, whistle-like notes that turkeys emit in a rhythmic fashion; the number of notes or syllables ranging from a few to over 10. It is an assembly call, emitted by a young turkey when it has become lost or separated from a flock or family group.

* Kee-Kee-Run – This consists of a series of kee-kee calls followed immediately by several yelps, and simulates a young turkey that is learning how to yelp.

For more helpful information on turkey hunting in Maine, as well as laws and regulations, visit http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/wild_turkey.htm

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