2004 Spring Turkey Season Opens with Youth Day on April 17; Regular Season Begins April 19
ANNAPOLIS, MD - Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife & Heritage Director Paul A. Peditto reminded hunters of the upcoming statewide spring turkey hunting seasons.
The 1-day Youth Turkey Hunt will be held on Saturday, April 17 and the regular statewide spring turkey season will begin on Monday, April 19 and continue through Monday, May 24.
“Spring turkey hunting continues to grow in popularity in Maryland, and hunters should find ample opportunities to experience the thrill and excitement of spring gobbler hunting,” Peditto said.
Hunters are particularly encouraged to take a young hunter afield on April 17. This 1-day 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 hunters must possess a valid hunting license or be exempt from Maryland hunting license requirements. Each young hunter may harvest one bearded turkey on the Youth Day, which will count towards the season bag limit of 2 bearded turkeys if no turkey was taken during the fall season.
“This is a great opportunity for Maryland’s young hunters,” Peditto stated. “Gobbling activity should be at its peak and hunting pressure should be minimal, giving our next generation of turkey hunters the chance to make memories that last a lifetime.”
Although wild turkey populations are near record levels throughout most of Maryland, recent poor nesting conditions may be evident in fewer sightings of young gobblers, called jakes. The DNR’s annual brood surveys suggest that typical turkey hunting hotspots in Garrett County and the lower Eastern Shore have experienced 2 consecutive years of exceptional low reproductive success.
Excellent hunting can still be found in Western Maryland, the traditional stronghold for turkeys in Maryland. However, following a 20-year restoration effort spearheaded by DNR with help from conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), spring gobbler hunting opportunities are abundant throughout the state. Turkeys now occur in every county and densities in the lower shore counties of Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester have equaled and possibly surpassed densities in the western mountains. “The restoration of Maryland’s wild turkeys is a conservation achievement every Marylander should be proud of,” Director Peditto added.
Many public properties across Maryland support excellent wild turkey populations. Hunters may find heavy hunting pressure on some public lands, especially on opening day and the first Saturday. Most public lands receive little hunting pressure as the season progresses, especially in the latter few weeks of the season, making it an enjoyable time to hunt this magnificent bird.
Although turkey hunting accidents are rare in Maryland, The NWTF, in conjunction with DNR, urges all turkey hunters to practice safe and ethical hunting this spring. Make sure you positively identify your target as a bearded turkey and eliminate the colors of a gobbler’s head, red, blue, and white, from your clothing. Hunters are also encouraged to wear a florescent orange cap while moving and tie an orange ribbon around a nearby tree while calling.
For additional information concerning Maryland turkey hunting regulations and public land opportunities, consult the DNR publication Hunting and Trapping in Maryland 2003-2004, which is issued to hunters when they purchase a hunting license. These publications are also available at all DNR Service Centers and on DNR’s website: www.dnr.state.md.us. Further information about the NWTF can be found on NWTF’s website: www.nwtf.org.
Posted April 5, 2004