Fall turkey season is coming up. Turkey hunting can be a great start for a new hunter. Here’s how to get started hunting Maine wild turkeys.
Now that you have successfully completed your hunter safety course, it is time for your first hunt. You may be wondering, “How do I get started?” Wild turkey is the perfect hunt for beginners. The mild temperatures of late summer and early fall, the thrill of calling a long-bearded tom, and the abundant turkey population in much of the state make for an exciting experience. The 2022 fall turkey season in Maine begins September 19 through November 7.
What you will need:
You don’t need a lot of equipment to hit the turkey forest. First, you will need a harvest medium. It can be a shotgun, a bow and arrow, or a crossbow. 10- to 20-gauge shotguns are legal to use, with ammunition containing sizes 4, 5, 6, or mixed size 4-7 loads. 28- and .410-gauge shotguns are also an option. Ammunition containing shot sizes 7 to 9 can be used in Tungsten Super Shot.
Before you hunt with a shotgun, you’ll want to “pattern” your gun. The tapping will give you an idea of where the shot is landing on a target. Each combination of gun, choke, and ammo works differently. The patterns will help you visualize where the majority of the shot will land on your target. Using a paper plate or turkey target, fire your gun with the choke (full or turkey) and ammo you plan to hunt with. Look to see where most of the shot landed. If the shot pattern isn’t dense, you may want to consider other ammo options, a different shot size, or a choke.
If you plan to use a shotgun, you will need a valid Maine big game or small game license, as well as a turkey permit. If you use a bow and arrow, you will need a valid archery license and turkey permit. For crossbow users, a valid archery license either A large or small game license is required, as well as a turkey permit. These licenses and permits can be purchased online.
The thrill of turkey hunting in the spring is the receptive nature of these large birds. Male turkeys, known as Tom (adult) or Jake (juvenile), are very reactive to the sounds of other turkeys. Use a turkey call to trick Tom or Jake into coming straight to you. When you hear a big Tom gobble up, you’ll understand why they’re called thunder chickens. Calls come in a variety of styles and prices. An easy call to master as a beginner would be a board or pot call, or a box call. Diaphragm or mouth calls are a cheaper option, but require practice to become fluent. Wire calling is legal in Maine and could be a great option for a newbie.
During the fall turkey season, calling is sometimes less effective. The turkeys focus on food in preparation for the winter months ahead. Finding your food source is a good place to prepare for a hunt. If you can find a feeding area that is being used by turkeys, the call can still be very effective. A feeding hen decoy, and a few howls or clucks with a call, can cause a nearby Tom to gobble up.
Unlike deer hunting, two bright orange garments It is not Required for turkey hunting. Turkeys have incredible eyesight, so you’ll want to dress in camouflage from head to toe. That said, remember that you are sharing the forest with other outdoor users. It is important to be sure of your goal and what lies beyond it. Also, mark your hunting area with orange flag tape so other hunters know you are in the area. A simple wrap around a nearby tree will do the trick. It is not required by law, but it is a good practice.
We could make this list 100 pages long when it comes to gear, but we’ll keep it simple. Other gear options to consider would be one or two turkey decoys and ground bait. A blind will protect your movements from birds and keep you dry in bad weather.
Laws of the land:
It’s always a good idea to read the current Maine Game Law book, whether you’re a novice or experienced hunter. Regulations can change from year to year, and ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Here are some great ones to remember:
- Legal hunting hours are 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. For times, see this chart.
- During the spring turkey season, only male (bearded) turkeys may be harvested. In the fall, either sex can be harvested.
- Harvested spring turkeys must be tagged for shipping and registered for $2 at the nearest tagging station. Fall season turkeys do not need to be tagged or registered.
- A turkey cannot be shot while it is on a tree (perch).
- The use of bait is prohibited.
- A hunter cannot exceed the bag limits for the season, which vary by WMD.
It is very important to be able to distinguish the sex of a turkey. The fall season is easier for new hunters. During the fall season, hunters can take turkeys of any gender or age. In some ADMs, up to five turkeys can be harvested during the season.
Spring season is male turkey only, you’ll need to know. Male turkeys are usually larger in size compared to females. The distinguishing features of male turkeys are their red, white, and blue heads, and their beards that hang down from their chests. Don’t just keep an eye out for beards, it has been found that a small number of women also have beards, but they are rare. Do some preseason scouting to practice identifying the sex of a turkey. It can be difficult under pressure and at a distance for an untrained eye.
Season bag limits per WMD:
- Five turkeys – 15-17, 20-25.
- Three turkeys – 26.
- A turkey: 6-8,10-14, 18, 19, 27 and 29.
- Closed for turkey hunting: 1-5 and 9.
Last year, the Maine Interior Department of Fish and Wildlife made changes to the tagging rules for fall turkey. Hunted fall turkeys do not need to be tagged or registered for transportation. harvested spring turkeys they are still required to be fully labeled and registered.
Be a good land user:
Much of the land in Maine is privately owned. Always ask permission before hunting on someone else’s land. Access to private land is a privilege, not a right. Always respect the owner’s wishes. Pick up what you and the others have left behind, and leave the area as you found it, or better.
Keep hunting in Maine safe:
As a recent hunter safety graduate, we’re sure these rules are stuck in your head. But, a review never hurts. Hunting is one of the safest outdoor activities in Maine. Let’s keep it that way.
Rules to remember:
- Treat each firearm as if it were loaded.
- Keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Be aware of what is in front of and beyond your target before you shoot.
For more tips on turkey hunting in Maine, watch this 10-minute video from the Maine Interior Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Have a safe and exciting turkey season.
15 Must-Have Items for Ice Fishing Season in Maine
Ice fishing is a great way to take advantage of the cold winter months in Maine. It will take you outside to get some fresh air, it is great for families and a successful day could lead to a tasty dinner. If you’re new to the sport, we’ve put together a list of the gear you’ll need for a fun, comfortable and successful day on the ice. Some of these items are more essential than others. Some gear may not be essential at all, depending on how you plan to fish. Again, the items we list are geared towards those who are new to ice fishing.
Before you get to the list, remember to dress appropriately for cold weather. We didn’t put warm outerwear on the list, but it’s definitely a must. It is important to dress in layers to ensure you are warm enough for the entire day on the ice. If it starts to get too hot, you can simply take off a layer. Hand warmers are also worth packing.