Fall Turkey Season Set To Open October 30
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto reminds hunters that Maryland’s fall turkey season will open Saturday, Oct. 30 and close Saturday, Nov. 6. As in the past, the season will only be open in Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties with a bag limit of 1 turkey.
“Fall turkey hunting has a rich tradition in western Maryland,” Peditto said. “Whether hunters are hoping to take home a Thanksgiving bird or simply want to spend time with friends and family, the fall turkey season is a great opportunity for Maryland’s sportsmen and women.”
Wild turkeys numbers are typically high in the fall-hunted counties and this year will be no exception. Field surveys conducted by DNR field staff suggest that wild turkey reproductive success was at a record high level this past summer.
“An exceptionally high average of 4 to 5 young were produced by each hen this year which should result in an exciting hunting experience for our fall turkey hunters,” Peditto added.
The total number of turkeys observed on the surveys was also significantly higher than previous years, showing that turkey populations have rebounded quickly from the poor reproduction experienced in the summers of 2002 and 2003.
Typically, fall harvest varies greatly from year to year depending on reproduction, weather, mast crops, and hunter participation. Reproductive success is probably the most important; it influences the number of turkeys in the field, which in turn affects hunter success and total fall harvests. If past years with similar reproduction are any indication, fall harvest will undoubtedly increase over last year’s poor harvest. Last fall, following two consecutive below-average reproductive seasons, only 163 turkeys were taken in the one-week season.
Although the turkey population may be high, skilled hunters know that the best chance for success is to hunt near food sources. When mast, such as acorns and beechnuts, is scarce, turkeys will often congregate near any available food sources or venture into fields looking for food, making them more susceptible to hunters. Mast surveys conducted in August and September by DNR personnel show that acorns in the western counties are in locally abundant in certain areas but sparse in others.
Hunters should note that western Maryland provides excellent public land opportunities for fall turkey hunters. The region hosts more than 150,000 acres of State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas, giving public land hunters plenty of room to explore while pursuing this magnificent gamebird.
Interested hunters should consult DNRs website, http://dnr.maryland.gov, or the Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland, 2004-2005 for more information on public lands opportunities and fall turkey regulations.