AUGUSTA, Maine -- Turkey registration books have been collected from throughout southwest, central and coastal Maine, and the numbers indicate that in 2003, turkey hunters in Maine bagged a record number of turkeys. Maine's turkey season was from April 28 to May 31, and during that span, 3,994 turkeys were registered at area tagging stations.
The 3,994 registered turkeys is an increase from last year's record of 3,391. In all, there were 2,796 toms (adult males), 1,090 jakes (juvenile males) and 62 registered birds of unrecorded sex or age. 12,000 permits were issued this year, an increase of 3,000 permits over the previous year. The spring turkey hunt restricts permit holders to one bearded turkey. Hunters enjoyed a 36% success rate.
"Hunter success remained high this year -- on par with recent years -- indicating an abundant turkey population in most areas where they are hunted in Maine. The low proportion of jakes in the kill relative to toms probably reflects generally poor turkey production last year, when we had greater than average rainfall in May," said Andy Weik, an IFW Wildlife Biologist who specializes in Turkeys. " Wet weather during the nesting season is results in poor nest success among wild turkeys because moist conditions are believed to aid predators such as raccoons and foxes, which rely on their keen sense of smell, in finding nests. Turkeys nest on the ground, and their eggs are relished by many predators.
Once again this fall, there will be a fall archery hunt for turkeys in Wildlife Management Districts 15, 16, and 20-26. The season dates will be in late October, and determined later this summer. Anyone who possesses an archery license may purchase a permit to hunt wild turkey during this fall season. Only a bow and arrow may be used to hunt turkeys during this season. Maine's wild turkey population is probably in excess of 20,000 birds.
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