Turkey shoot begins in April
It’s that time of year again to talk turkey. While those goofy looking birds are about to strut their feathers in pursuit of their lovely ladies, hunters are readying for the annual turkey shoot that starts on April 27 and runs to May 18. From dawn until 1:30 p.m. hunters each day during that period will be permitted to harvest a maximum of two birds each as long as the birds have beards.
Game wardens for District 5’s Bromebolton Fish and Game Club are reminding folks that they shouldn’t think that they can venture out cold turkey to track down these clumsy-looking birds without taking a special turkey hunting course.
Wayne Royea says that the annual turkey shoot has become a big hit with hunters with economic spinoffs last year estimated at $5 million. In Quebec a total of 7,796 birds were hunted with 544 taken from District 5. Although birders and hunters are thrilled with the return of the species after they had all but been extirpated in the early 1900s, Royea admits that the downside of their return and population explosion is that farmers are finding the rising population a nuisance. Some refer the influx of the species as an invasion with armies of them taking over the fields. “They are causing damage to their fields and crops,” Royea said. “They poke holes in the plastic wrapping of the hay bales, and while they are digging for insects they yank up seedlings. They have even been seen dining on the grapes in some of the local vineyards.”
Their near disappearance in Quebec in the early 1900s because of uncontrolled hunting and the loss of habitat demonstrates their resilience to survival. It was around 2000 that Quebec’s minister of Forest and Wildlife launched a project to reintroduce them. They transferred 600 birds from western Quebec to the Townships. By 2008 the population had grown substantially, enough to open hunting season that would restrict hunters to harvesting one or two birds each, depending on the region
By 2008 the ministry had revealed a surplus of turkeys and saw 2,227 hunting permits issued. Since then there has been a 30 per cent rise in permits while the harvest represented an almost 23 per cent increase between the 2016 and 2017 hunting seasons.
According to Quebec Outfitters, the wild turkey is the largest game bird in North America. It is prized for human consumption. Experts attribute the success of the survival of these groundnesters that roost in trees at night to the province’s milder winters, as well as to reforestation. Warden Jennifer Jones says that these clumsy looking birds that have brains that are disproportionate to their bodies, have excellent eyesight similar to the eagles.
“I love hunting them,” extolled Royea. “We have a great time out there. We have had bears hoot at us and geese honking. It’s a nice time in the morning just before sunrise. You have to keep your eyes open for skunks walking. And the wild turkeys are delicious to eat.”
The next turkey hunting course is March 24 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will be held at the Depanneur Rouge in Knowlton. The price is $71 with 80 per cent of that amount going back to wildlife funds for habitat conservation or restructuring. Registration is done online. (Securite Nature) http://www.fedecp.com/lesformations/securite-nature/. Permits can be bought any place that sells hunting licenses, but be forewarned that the vendors will know whether the applicant has taken the mandatory course beforehand.
Jennifer Jones, game warden for District 5 and an avid hunter, with last year’s harvest of two drakes weighing 12 and 18 pounds respectively.