Rhode Island DEM Says Spring Turkey Hunt Was “Outstanding”

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Spring Turkey Hunt Was "Outstanding"PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management has released the results of Rhode Island’s 2008 spring turkey season. Turkey hunters harvested 203 birds during the month-long hunt, a four percent increase over the 195 birds taken during the 2007 season. The harvest included eight birds taken during the two-day junior hunter and paraplegic hunter seasons on April 26-27. A total of 64 juveniles (Jakes) and 139 adults (Toms) were harvested. The 2008 season was a safe season with no hunting accidents reported. The hunter success rate was 17 percent.

“The restoration of the wild turkey continues to be a major success story in Rhode Island, with turkey hunters enjoying excellent hunting opportunities,” said Brian Tefft, principal wildlife biologist at DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “This year’s slight increase in the harvest is a positive development after a couple of down years; however, is due in part to below-average reproductive success in the past two summers.”

Turkeys were harvested in 23 of the state’s 39 cities and towns. The top five towns in harvest were Exeter (20), Glocester (20), South Kingstown (21), Coventry (15) and Smithfield (15). Eighty-one percent of the birds were harvested on private land, while 37 birds were taken on 14 different state wildlife management areas. Big River wildlife management area in Coventry and Great Swamp wildlife management area in South Kingstown were the top- producing state land areas. The first week of the season accounted for 57 percent of the harvest (116 birds), 19 percent were taken during second week, 10 percent were taken during the third week, and 14 percent were taken during the fourth week.

Several large gobblers were harvested during the season, including 79 birds that weighed in at over 20 pounds. The average live weight for juveniles was 14.5 pounds and the average live weight for adults was 18.1 pounds. The largest bird weighed was a three year-old 25-pound gobbler with 1-inch spurs and 11-inch beard harvested on private land in Exeter. The state record is a 25.5-pound gobbler taken in 2001 in Exeter. Five multi-bearded birds were harvested. Resident hunters took 87 percent (176) of the birds compared to 13 percent (27 birds) for non-resident hunters.