The reintroduction of wild turkeys in Maine stands as one of the state’s great wildlife management triumphs. Starting with 41 Vermont turkeys that were released in York County in 1977 and 1978, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has helped grow a flock and spread it throughout the state.
This year further evidence of that project’s continued success will be on display in eastern Hancock and Washington counties, as two more Wildlife Management Districts will be opened to turkey hunting. The DIF&W will open spring turkey hunting in WMD 19, which contains Baileyville and Princeton, and WMD 28, which stretches from Waltham to Calais.
The season kicks off with Saturday’s Youth Turkey Day for hunters who have not reached their 16th birthdays, and begins in earnest on Monday. They spring turkey season runs until June 4.
Thomas Schaeffer, a DIF&W regional wildlife biologist, explained in a press release that the department expanded its turkey reintroduction efforts into the Down East region nearly a decade ago.
“We started introducing wild turkeys in eastern Hancock and Washington counties back in 2002, resulting in nearly 300 birds being released in the Down East area,” Schaeffer wrote. “The opportunity to hunt turkeys is the result of invested time, money and cooperation between the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine state and Down East Longbeards chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and a number of dedicated volunteers and private landowners.”
A pair of important notes: Hunting is still not allowed in WMD 27, which includes more coastal Washington County communities like Jonesport and Cutler, and fall turkey hunting will not be permitted in the two zones that were opened for this spring.
Those new to turkey hunting are encouraged to pay particular attention to state game regulations — many laws are specific to the species. For instance, turkey hunters must cease hunting at noon each day, which isn’t the case during many other seasons.
And because turkey hunters are generally dressed in camouflage clothing, safety is a huge concern that shouldn’t be taken lightly. For that reason, the active stalking of turkeys by hunters is strongly discouraged by the DIF&W and turkey-hunting organizations.
For more information, go to www.mefishwildlife.com, visit the DIF&W regional headquarters in Jonesboro or call 434-5927.
Atlantic salmon festival set for Saturday
In many past years — years when the Penobscot River was open to Atlantic salmon fishing, that is — throngs of anglers flocked to the water on opening day to try their hand at hooking and landing a hard-fighting fish they’d boast about for years.
Due to a federal Endangered Species Act listing of salmon in the Penobscot, salmon fishing isn’t allowed on the river any longer. But on Saturday, according to tradition, members of all three local salmon clubs will celebrate the river’s history during the Penobscot Unified Salmon Festival.
The festival, which takes the place of a traditional opening-day breakfast, will be held at 7 a.m. at the Penobscot Salmon Club on North Main Street in Brewer. Participating groups include the Penobscot Salmon Club, the Veazie Salmon Club and the Eddington Salmon Club.
The public is welcome to attend and take part in activities that include breakfast, fly-tying, wood-carving, casting and canoe trips.
Grouse society dinner on tap
Conservation-minded bird hunters may want to enjoy an evening with their peers Saturday at the 29th annual sportsmen’s dinner of the Burton L. Spiller Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society.
The event will be held at the Calumet Club in Augusta. A reception party begins at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m.
Live and silent auctions are planned, with a fine selection of firearms, artwork and collectibles up for grabs.
Dinner tickets cost $55. An optional family membership package is available for $100, which includes two dinners. Banquet, conservation and sustaining sponsorship packages are available for $275, $500 and $1,000, respectively.
Proceeds will be used to restore and protect grouse and woodcock habitat.
For more information or tickets, contact Russ Dyer at email@example.com or 737-8529.