Wild Turkey Hunting
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Once reduced to meager numbers, the turkey is now prospering through the combined efforts of wildlife managers and sportsmen. Turkey hunting is a secretive sport in which a camouflaged hunter attracts the wary bird by use of a call. Success is not always measured in the number or size of the animals harvested, but in seeing, hearing or conversing with this game bird.
According to Rob Keck of the National Wild Turkey Federation, "turkey hunting has become one of the safest outdoor activities whether you're talking about team sports, other types of hunting, or outdoor hobbies such as mountain biking. The incident rate for turkey hunting has fallen to 2.95 injuries per 100,000 hunters, even though the number of turkey hunters has increased dramatically." Effective turkey hunting safety curriculums have been the key to reducing incidents. It is your responsibility to become safe, ethical hunters, who through example and education preserve the integrity of the sport for future generations.
Due to an increasing wild turkey population and distribution in Maine resulting from the Department's active management program, spring/fall Wild Turkey permits are now available over-the-counter rather than through an application/lottery process. Hunters may now purchase a spring/fall Wild Turkey permit wherever hunting licenses are sold.
The following laws and regulations are specific to the spring Wild Turkey hunting season. Hunters must also comply with all other applicable fish and wildlife laws of Title 12, Maine Revised Statutes.
For more information, also see the Spring Wild Turkey Hunter's Guide.
A spring/fall turkey permit is required in addition to a valid hunting license that allows hunting of big game.
Note: Holders of a spring/fall turkey permit may also purchase a second spring turkey permit that allows for the taking of second bearded wild turkey.
Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Zone and Dates:
- April 30, 2012 through June 2, 2012
- Youth Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Day (Resident and Non-resident)- April 28, 2012
- The 2012 Spring Wild Turkey hunting season, is open to all hunters who possess a spring/fall Wild Turkey hunting permit and a valid Maine hunting license that allows hunting of big game. Note: A valid archery license in addition to a spring/fall Wild Turkey permit also permits hunting of Wild Turkey with bow and arrow only.
- Hunters may also purchase a second spring turkey permit.
The permittee must possess the spring/fall Wild Turkey permit as well as their hunting license or archery license at all times while hunting. A person may assist in a hunt without a license or permit for that activity as long as that person does not carry hunting equipment.
Youth Hunting Day:
Youth 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age who possess a junior hunting license, including a junior lifetime hunting license, may hunt under adult supervision on the first Saturday preceding the opening day of the spring Wild Turkey hunting season - April 28, 2012. Note: The resident spring/fall turkey permit and the second spring turkey permit are included in the resident junior hunting license and resident junior lifetime hunting license.
Junior hunters, including a junior lifetime hunting License, may hunt for two bearded turkey with shotguns or bow and arrow, and must be accompanied by parent, guardian, or a qualified adult. The qualified adult must be a person 18 or older who has been approved by the youth's parent or guardian and must hold a valid Maine hunting license or have completed a hunter safety course. The accompanying adult cannot possess hunting equipment on the youth hunting day.
- Resident Spring/Fall Wild Turkey Permit - $20.00*
- Nonresident Spring/Fall Wild Turkey Permit - $54.00*
- Second Spring Turkey Permit - $20.00
Note: The spring/fall turkey permit allows the taking of one (1) bearded wild turkey in the spring and one (1) wild turkey of either sex in the fall.
*Plus agent fee.
Legal Hunting Hours:
One-half (1/2) hour before sunrise until 12:00 p.m. (noon) local time.
Bag Limit and Possession Limit:
One (1) bearded Wild Turkey per holder of a spring/fall turkey permit. Possession of a second spring turkey permit allows taking and possession of a second bearded wild turkey.
Legal Method for Taking Wild Turkey:
Only shotgun gauges 10 through 20 using shot sizes 4 through 6, or bow and arrow may be used to hunt Wild Turkeys during the spring Wild Turkey hunting season. Electronic calling devices are legal.
Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Zones and Dates:
A spring/fall wild turkey hunting permit and an archery license are required to hunt in Zone 1 and 2. In Zone 3, a spring/fall wild turkey hunting permit and a hunting license that allows hunting for big game are required to hunt with a shotgun, and a spring/fall wild turkey hunting permit and an archery license are required to hunt with bow and arrow.
The permittee must possess the spring/fall wild turkey permit as well as their hunting license or archery license at all times while hunting. A person may assist in a hunt without a license or permit for that activity as long as that person does not carry hunting equipment.
Resident Spring/Fall Wild Turkey Permit - $20.00*
Nonresident Spring/Fall Wild Turkey Permit - $54.00*
Note: The spring/fall turkey permit allows the taking of one (1) one bearded Wild Turkey in the spring and one (1) Wild Turkey of either sex in the fall.
*Plus agent fee.
Legal Hunting Hours:
Legal hunting time is from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
Bag and Possession Limit:
One (1) Wild Turkey of either sex and any age per permit holder.
Legal Method for Taking Wild Turkey During the Fall Season:
- Only bow and arrow may be used to hunt Wild Turkey during the fall Wild Turkey hunting season in Zone 1 and Zone 2.
- In Zone 3, permit holders may use (with appropriate license), bow and arrow or shotgun gauges 10 through 20 using shot sizes 4 through 6.
- No person may use bait, dogs, live decoys, or traps or other devices intended or designed for the purpose of capturing or ensnaring Wild Turkeys.
- It is unlawful to use dogs to hunt Wild Turkeys, except during the fall Wild Turkey hunting season.
- It is unlawful to take a turkey while the turkey is in a tree.
- It is unlawful to engage in an organized drive of any manner while hunting Wild Turkeys.
- A person may not shoot or shoot at a wild turkey decoy of another person.
- No person may present a Wild Turkey for registration, or allow to be registered in his or her name, any Wild Turkey, which he or she did not lawfully kill.
- No person may possess any part or parts of a Wild Turkey unless each part is plainly labeled with the name and address of the person who registered the turkey.
- It is unlawful for any person to hunt Wild Turkey during any open season after having killed or registered a Wild Turkey during that open season. Exception: A holder of a Second Spring Turkey Permit may hunt for a second bearded wild turkey in the spring season.
- It is illegal to buy, sell (or offer for sale or barter) any Wild Turkey, or to counsel or otherwise aid in buying, selling (or offering for sale or barter) any Wild Turkey.
- It is unlawful to hunt Wild Turkeys outside of the spring or fall Wild Turkey hunting zone.
Summarized below are some general hunting laws you should be aware of while Wild Turkey hunting in Maine. This listing has no legal weight and is not intended as a substitute for reading the current Hunting Laws and Rules.
- Discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a residential dwelling without permission of the owner.
- Shoot from or over any paved way (any road with a bituminous surface).
- Hunt on Sunday or at night.
- Hunt without being accompanied by an adult (18 or older) if you are under 16 years of age.
- Hunt while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.
- Hunt with automatic firearms (continue to fire as long as trigger is held back).
- Interfere with anyone who is hunting legally, or disturb wild animals with the intent to interfere with the hunting of them.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife strongly recommends that hunters ask permission of the landowner before going onto land to hunt or scout. Since the hunt will be conducted during the spring (a non-traditional hunting period) and in the most densely populated counties of Maine, it is very important to seek consent from the landowner. The hunter who does this will find that landowners who posted their property during the fall are often willing to allow spring turkey hunting. Usually, the landowner only wants to know who you are and when you are going to be on his/her land. If you fail to gain permission on a parcel, respect the landowner’s rights and seek hunting privileges elsewhere. The success of this and future hunts depends on you.
Any private landowner is eligible to hunt Wild Turkeys on their own land without a Wild Turkey permit during the spring Wild Turkey hunting season or the fall Wild Turkey hunting season if:
- that person owns a particular piece of land that is 25 or more contiguous acres in size and is located within the turkey hunting zone designated for the season that they wish to hunt;
- that person is permanently domiciled on that land;
- the land is managed for the raising and selling of dairy cattle, dairy products, or beef cattle; and
- the land is open to hunting including hunting by permission.
Any family member permanently domiciled on that land is also eligible to hunt Wild Turkeys on that land without a Wild Turkey permit.
A family member means any family member of legal hunting age, including spouse, children, grandchildren, etc. who resides on the property.
A landowner must provide proof of eligibility if requested by an agent of the commissioner.
Eligible persons may take two (2) bearded Wild Turkeys in the spring, and one (1) Wild Turkey of either gender in the fall, in accordance with all laws and rules of that open season including weapon restrictions, tagging, and reporting requirements.
Landowners and eligible family members may hunt during any open week of the Wild Turkey hunting season regardless of their year of birth.
Any person killing a Wild Turkey shall immediately securely attach to its leg, a plainly visible transportation tag bearing his/her full name, address, and license number. You can now make your own transportation tags (include name, address, and license number) on any type of material you choose; you can print them from our web site - Transportation Tags PDF; or we can send you a set of tyvek tags if you would like to e-mail your request along with name and mailing address. Gift turkeys are to be labeled with the name and address of the person who registered it and the year the turkey was registered.
Any Wild Turkey being moved or transported in any manner must have a plainly visible transportation tag bearing the name, address, and license number of the person who killed it securely attached to its leg, and it must be accompanied by the person who killed it. Unless the Wild Turkey has been legally registered, no person shall keep a Wild Turkey at his/her home or at any place of storage (except at the official registration station or at the office of a Maine game warden) for more than eighteen (18) hours without first notifying a game warden.
All Wild Turkeys taken by hunters shall be presented for registration within 18 hours at one of the registration stations established for that purpose.
The entire turkey, except the viscera, shall be presented.
The fee to register a Wild Turkey is $5.00.
All radio transmitters, leg bands, and wing tags must be submitted at the time of registration. For information on banded Wild Turkeys, please contact the closest IF&W Office. Gray (207) 657-2345, Sidney (207) 547-5318, Bangor (207) 941-4474, Greenville (207) 695-3756, and Ashland (207) 435-3231.