Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Vermont Begins its Second Half Century of Regulated Turkey Hunting

It’s almost time for spring turkey hunting in Vermont, and this year’s season is noteworthy because it marks the 51st hunting season since the successful science-based reintroduction of wild turkeys to our state by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

Youth and novice turkey hunting weekend is April 27 and 28 this year, and the regular spring turkey season is May 1-31.

“The youth and novice turkey hunting weekend provides an excellent opportunity for experienced hunters to teach young or new hunters how to safely and successfully hunt wild turkeys,” said Chris Bernier, Vermont’s wild turkey biologist. “As we look back on 50 years of turkey hunting in Vermont and plan ahead to the next 50, mentoring the next generation of hunters who are excited about turkeys is one of the surest ways to make sure this remarkable bird continues to thrive in our state.”

To hunt turkeys on April 27 and 28, a youth must be 15 or younger and must have completed a hunter education course and possess a hunting license, a turkey hunting license and a free youth turkey hunting tag.

A person who has purchased their first hunting license in the past 12 months and is 16 or older may hunt turkeys as a novice on April 27 and 28. They must have a hunting license, turkey hunting license and a free novice tag.

The youth or novice must be accompanied by an unarmed licensed adult over 18 years of age. Shooting hours for the weekend are one half hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. Landowner permission is required to hunt on private land during youth-novice turkey hunting weekend.

The youth or novice may take one bearded turkey on the weekend and two bearded turkeys in the regular May hunting season.

Shooting hours during the May 1-31 turkey season are one half hour before sunrise to 12:00 Noon, and two bearded turkeys may be taken.

A shotgun or archery equipment may be used to hunt turkeys. Shot size must be no larger than #2.

A successful hunter in Vermont’s spring turkey seasons must report their turkey within 48 hours to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. This can be done at a local big game reporting station or online at Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s website.

Last year, youth and novice hunters took 786 and 37 turkeys, respectively during the April weekend hunt and hunters took 5,763 gobblers during the regular spring season.

“Combined with the 386 turkeys taken during the fall season, hunters harvested in excess of 160,000 servings of locally sourced, free range turkey meat in 2023,” added Bernier. “To go from essentially no turkeys in Vermont before 1969 to a booming population that can provide over a hundred thousand meals each season as well as wildlife viewing opportunities statewide is a conservation success anyone who cares about wildlife can be proud of.”

Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s 2024 Turkey Hunting Guide is available on their website at this link.