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Turkey Hunting Harvest, License and Population Trends

Preliminary results are out for New Hampshire’s May 2016 spring gobbler season. Data in to date shows that hunters harvested 3,821 turkeys in New Hampshire during the spring hunt. This is 172 fewer gobblers (4.3%) than the 3,993 taken in the 2015 spring season.  More registration forms may trickle in from the 60 stations around the state, so the numbers are not final.


“It was thought that the May 2016 harvest total might exceed 4,000 gobblers, but poor hunting weather the first week probably reduced the potential harvest somewhat,” said longtime NH Fish and Game Turkey Biologist Ted Walski. Opening day (May 3) was a foggy morning, after a hard rain of 1.25 inches the previous day. On Wednesday, May 4, it rained most of the day, amounting to 1.5 inches. On Sunday, May 8, it rained again in the morning.


Another factor reducing the harvest, according to Walski, was the very early green-up. Spring-like conditions typical for the end of March were in evidence by March 7.  The month of April saw 18 “thawing days” of 50° F or greater. By May 17, leaves were budding out on the trees, reducing visibility and absorbing sound – and making it more difficult for hunters to see and hear turkeys.


Of the 18 Wildlife Management Units, J2 (north of Route 4 to Lake Winnipesaukee) had the most turkeys taken (627), followed by K (mostly western Hillsboro county) with 461, then M (435) and L (381) in the Rockingham/Strafford county region, and H2 (409) in Cheshire County.
Further details of the data from the 2016 spring gobbler season will be available at a later date when all registration data have been entered and verified.


Most turkey eggs typically hatch from late May to mid-June. NH Fish and Game is asking the public’s help in monitoring observations of wild turkey broods through its annual turkey brood survey that runs from June 1 through August 31. Additional information on the survey and how to participate is available at




License and Population Trends


Interest in turkey hunting continues to grow in New Hampshire. The charts below show the upward trend of annual turkey harvest totals and turkey license sales in New Hampshire since 1980, as well as the continuing growth of the wild turkey population in the state. We've come a long way since 1980, the first year turkey hunting season was offered in New Hampshire in modern times, when just over 700 permit holders harvested 31 turkeys.


The return of wild turkeys to New Hampshire is a true wildlife restoration success story, funded through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration program. Turkeys had completely disappeared from the state for more than a century until NH Fish and Game released 25 birds in 1975.  The Department has managed the population through science-based research since that time, guided in recent years by 10-year Game Management Plans PDF Document.


NH Spring Turkey Kill 1980-2007


NH Turkey Permit Issuance


NH Wild Turkey Population Estimates