In most Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs), spring turkey hunting in Maine begins a half hour before sunrise on May 2. There is a special Youth Day that is held April 30th. There is probably no better way to introduce a youngster to hunting than in the turkey woods. For adult or youngster, the primitive sound of that first gobble echoing in the morning woodlands is a spine-tingling thrill.

This spring, for the first time, a small game hunting license in addition to a spring/fall turkey permit is all that is required. Bag limits vary from one bearded turkey to two, depending upon which WMD you are hunting ( check your hunting law book).

New and veteran turkey hunters alike need to always be mindful of what is and what is not safe turkey hunting. Turkey hunting accidents are rare, but they do happen. Negligence and unwise behavior in the turkey woods are always causal factors in turkey hunting accidents. Above all, avoid at all costs the temptation to stalk a turkey, a practice that s inherently dangerous. Let the bird come to you.

Below is a helpful list of safety tips issued by the Vermont wildlife department.

• Never shoot unless you’re absolutely sure of your target and what is beyond it. Look for a beard as only turkeys with beards are legal during the spring season. If you’re not sure, skip the shot. Lack of positive identification could result in shooting an illegal bird, or worse, another hunter. Be sure to have a good backstop any time you shoot a firearm or bow.

• Never stalk a gobbling turkey. Your chances of getting close are poor, and you may be sneaking up on another hunter.

• Avoid red, white, blue and black in clothing and equipment. A tom turkey’s head has similar colors.

• Stick with hen calls. A gobbler call might draw in other hunters.

• Avoid unnecessary movement. This alerts turkeys and attracts hunters.

• Don’t hide so well that you impair your field of vision

• Wrap your turkey in blaze orange for the hike back to the car.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected] . He has three books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook”, “Backtrack.” And his latest “The Maine Angler’s Logbook.” Online purchase information is available at

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