Turkey Hunting

In 2013, a record Spring Gobbler harvest of 3,334 birds was taken and the 2014 harvest yielded only 19 birds less than the record. The 10-year average for Spring Gobbler Season is just under 3,000 birds. Western Maryland counties are the most productive, but counties in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore all hold healthy stocks of wild birds. Of the five distinct subspecies in North America, only the Eastern wild turkey resides in Maryland. Wild turkeys are dark brown to black in color with many feathers that are iridescent, exhibiting a metallic green and bronze color. Male turkeys are called gobblers and average around 18-22 lbs. During breeding season, their heads turn various shades of red, white, and blue. Female turkeys (called hens) are about half the size of gobblers, their plumage is duller, and they lack the bright head colors. Adult gobblers have spurs, a sharp, bony spike on the back of each of their legs. They also have a rough, black beard that protrudes from its breast. The beard can grow up to 12 inches long. Hens do not have spurs and usually do not have a beard, although bearded hens are not exceptionally rare.