It's Turkey Time in Maryland!
Spring is here! Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and best of all: wild turkeys are gobbling. With the season underway, here are a few tips from Fish & Hunt Maryland that just might get you that gobbling Tom.
- The season runs from April 18-May 23, and Youth Days are April 15, statewide and Sunday, April 16 in select counties.
- The bag limit is one bearded turkey per day and two bearded turkeys per season.
- Written permission is required when hunting on private property unless the owner or lessee is in the hunting party.
- Spring Turkey Season daily shooting hours for April 18 through May 9 are one-half hour before sunrise to noon. May 10 through May 23 are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
- The state provides thousands of acres of public land that are located in all counties that can be used for hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities. Click here to learn more about Maryland's public lands, season dates, Sunday hunting restrictions, bag limits, check-in requirements and other regulations.
Like any hunting or fishing activity—safety is first. It's the most important thing when hunting turkeys. Never travel or cross roads with a loaded gun. One factor that makes turkey hunting such a fun sport is the response and interaction to your calls and decoys, but it can all be ruined with one careless or unsafe act. Be 100 percent sure that you're pursuing turkeys and not another hunter. Be sure to use your voice to alert other hunters of your presence rather than sudden movements, such as waving. So have fun and most importantly be safe.
Locating Birds and Setting Up:
Remember turkeys roost in the trees giving them an advantage over you on the ground in the early darkness of the morning. Try to get set up roughly two- to three hundred yards away from where you might think the turkey is located. If you're unsure, look for likely areas that they might travel to feed or to strut such as food plots, green fields and other open feeding areas like big hard woods.
Hens often congregate in these areas, and toms know it. Toms will also display for hens on old logging roads or a flat-topped ridge where they feel comfortable. These areas can be good places to set up and call.
If hunting open areas, sometimes decoys can be used effectively. A frequent mistake hunters make is placing decoys in a direct line with the direction the turkeys are approaching. This puts you in their line of sight and turkeys are renowned for their excellent eyesight. Instead, try to make a triangle by placing yourself at one corner, your decoys at another point, and the direction of the birds at the last point. For safety, never hide directly behind decoys or use them to stalk closer to birds. Keep decoys out-of-sight until you are at a safe location with good visibility.
Two Highlighted Places to Hunt:
Pocomoke State Forest hosts large areas of loblolly pine, mixed pine-hardwood, bottomland hardwood, bald-cypress forests, and cypress swamps that border the Potomac. The property also has tributaries and several marshes. With six trails containing various tracts and loops, it is easy for the family to enjoy a variety of recreational activities. Fishing and canoeing along the river, and hiking and mountain biking, are a must.
Billmeyer Wildlife Management Area is situated within the Ridge and Valley Physiographic Province, which is characterized by steep slopes. Elevations range from 800 feet in the hollow along Terrapin Run to a high of 1,200 feet along the ridge tops. The property is dominated by mixed oak forest with a few patches of conifers, mostly Virginia pine, with about 25 acres in fields or small wildlife openings. Turkeys are abundant here.
Get Out There:
Ready to try your hand at turkey hunting? Be sure to visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website for information on rules/regulations and licenses. For information on lodging options, hunting guides and outfitters, outdoor retailers and shooting ranges, visit the Planning Resources section on our website. And if you’re up for turning your hunt into a getaway, check out Visit Maryland for places to stay, dine and things to do.