Friday, August 24, 2007

Turkey Dogging Officially Legalized in Maine

Maine has finally included language on their website regarding fall turkey regulations that affirms that dogs are indeed legal. New Hampshire previously posted the legalization of dogs for fall turkey hunting--for the sake of flushing flocks--this summer. Here in New England's deer, bear, and moose country, the turkey hunting tradition is still emerging and evolving, especially as fall hunts go. Maine's 6-day fall firearms turkey season (Oct. 13; Oct. 15-19) will be the first of its kind in modern times.

On a related note, turkey hatches "here" (being Maine and New Hampshire) have ranged from late May (the earliest hen and poults I saw) to the third week of July (the latest I've noted). Contacts in New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and even Virginia confirm multiple brood sightings, and that their sense is we've had a decent hatch.

Now while it's true generalizing in terms of good and bad hatches is difficult, it's pretty clear we'll have turkeys out there to hunt this fall. Add to this group all those jakes you saw in the spring, birds that now wear 5- to 7-inch beards. These super jakes are always fun to hunt, often responsive to calling, and yes you'll even hear them gobble and see them strut when afield. This pecking order behavior will let you witness fights as male turkeys attempt to establish dominance. Let's not forget about broodless hen flocks, which in my experience, are sometimes among the most difficult turkeys you'll hunt.

--Steve Hickoff

(Photo Steve Hickoff)