By the mid-1800s turkeys had disappeared from the state as a result of unregulated hunting and deforestation. In 1969, Vermont wildlife biologists began the decades long effort to restore wild turkeys to the state with the release of 31 New York wild turkeys into Rutland county. Vermont’s turkey population is now estimated to be greater than 45,000 birds and their distribution in the state far exceeds their historical range with turkeys occurring in nearly every town.
Vermont has become a turkey hunting destination. With its unique patchwork of fields, forests and farmland, Vermont’s diverse landscape not only supports a healthy, abundant population of turkeys but it offers a variety of productive hunting opportunities as well. In fact, Vermont’s spring turkey hunters routinely achieve success rates greater than 25% and more than 35% of successful spring hunters take a second turkey to fill their two bird bag limit. In recent years, more than 6,000 turkeys have been harvested annually across the state providing hunters with an enduring connection to their environment and over 140,000 servings of local, organic and sustainably harvested turkey meat.
A current hunting or combination license and current turkey license with tag are required to hunt turkey. In addition to a hunting license and a turkey license, a turkey hunter using a bow or crossbow must have a previous or current bow license or a certificate proving completion of a bow hunter education course.
Only a shotgun, bow and arrow or crossbow may be used to take turkeys. Only number 2 through number 8 shot shall be used or possessed, and an arrowhead must be at least 7/8 of an inch in width and have two or more cutting edges.
Rifles shall not be used or carried by any person while hunting turkeys. No person shall use electronic calling devices, bait, live decoys, or participate in cooperative drives. No person shall use dogs in the spring season.
A hunter who takes a turkey shall immediately attach the proper tag to the carcass. The tag must remain on the carcass until the carcass is prepared for consumption.
Turkey hunting requires some additional measures of safety that may not be practiced in other forms of hunting. Never stalk a gobbling turkey — your chances of getting close are poor and you may be sneaking up on another hunter.
Wear blaze orange when walking in and out of your hunting site, and wrap any turkeys you bag in blaze orange. Use only hen calls to avoid potentially attracting another hunter with a gobbler call. Sit with your back against a tree in a spot with a good field of vision, and avoid sitting in the potential line of fire should another hunter mistakenly shoot at your decoy.
A person taking turkey shall within 48 hours report the taking and exhibit the carcass to the nearest game warden, official Fish & Wildlife Department Reporting Station, or to a person designated by the commissioner to receive the reports. No turkey carcass shall be transported out of state without first being reported.
Vermont’s Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend is held on the Saturday and Sunday prior to opening day of the spring turkey hunting season.
Any resident or nonresident youth, 15 years of age or younger on the weekend of the hunt, who has successfully completed a hunter safety course may obtain a free youth turkey hunting tag. A qualified youth must also purchase a Vermont hunting license and turkey license at a license agent by either showing proof of satisfactorily completing the hunter safety course or proof of having held a valid hunting license previously. The youth hunter’s parent or guardian must sign the hunting license application in the presence of the license agent.
When hunting, the youth hunter must be accompanied by an unarmed adult over 18 years of age who holds a valid Vermont hunting license. The adult may accompany no more than two youth hunters at any given time. The adult must have direct control and supervision, including the ability to see and communicate with the youth hunter without the aid of artificial devices such as radios or binoculars, except for medically necessary devices such as hearing aids or eyeglasses.
Landowner permission is required in order to hunt on private land with a youth turkey tag. All relevant game laws and regulations apply during Youth Turkey Hunting weekend, including the prohibition on baiting and road hunting. Landowners are not exempt from the requirement to purchase tags to hunt on their own property on youth weekends.
One-half hour before sunrise to 5:00 p.m. for youth weekend only.
The youth hunter may take one bearded turkey during Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend and may also hunt during the Spring Season and take two bearded turkeys during that season. The amount of a fine will be doubled for a violation on Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend, and the fine shall be assessed against the licensed adult who is accompanying the youth and who has the youth hunter in his or her charge.
May 1–31, 2020
One-half hour before sunrise to 12:00 noon.
Two bearded turkeys for the spring season.
All Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) are open to hunting during the spring season.
Fall Turkey Season
One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. (See Sunrise/Sunset Tables.)
One turkey of either sex for the fall season.
Dates and Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) Open to Hunting
- Archery only: Oct. 3–23, 2020 in all WMUs statewide
- Shotgun or Archery: Oct. 24 – Nov.1, 2020 in WMUs B, D, G, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, and Q
- Shotgun or Archery: Oct. 24 – Nov 8, 2020 in WMUs F, K, and N.