Tag Archives: turkey

Idaho Hunt Managers Tout 2019 Spring Turkey Prospects

THE FOLLOWING IS AN IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME PRESS RELEASE

The youth turkey season opens Monday, April 8, and the general turkey season and many controlled hunts in the state open the following Monday, April 15. Hunters can see which units have general hunts in Fish and Game’s turkey hunting rules, in addition to details about the seasons.

COLTYN SMITH, THEN AGE 14 FROM HORSESHOE BEND, IDAHO, AND CONNER TOMLINSON, THEN AGE 13 FROM MERIDIAN, IDAHO EACH HARVESTED THEIR TURKEY DURING THE YOUTH HUNT IN APRIL 2016. THEY WERE ESCORTED BY THEIR FATHERS, KIT SMITH AND SCOTT TOMLINSON. THE BOYS HUNTED ON A BEAUTIFUL MORNING, IN THE IDAHO CITY AREA. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

There are some rule changes for the 2019 season that hunters should be aware of, specifically pertaining to controlled hunts:

  • A general tag or an extra tag may be used with a controlled hunt permit in both the spring and fall seasons
  • Immediately after any wild turkey is killed, the turkey tag and permit, if a controlled hunt, must be validated and securely attached to the wild turkey. To validate the tag and permit, the hunter must cut out and completely remove two triangles on the border of the tag and permit, one for the month and one for the day of the kill
  • The tag and permit must remain attached so long as the turkey is in transit or storage

Hunters will find most general hunting opportunity in the Panhandle, Clearwater, and Southwest and Southeast Regions, while most other areas are limited to controlled hunts.

While much of the state experienced deep snowfall in February, the winter was relatively mild until that point, meaning turkeys were not stressed for a long period of time. Add that to the fact that most of the state’s turkey populations were in good shape heading into the winter, and hunters can expect good to very good turkey hunting in the spring of 2019.

Hunters are warned that many areas experience flooding during late winter and early spring, so they should double check access to their favorite hunting spots. They might also encounter lingering snowdrifts that block them from their hunting spot.

AN I.D.F.G. MAP SHOWS THE PARTS OF IDAHO THAT ARE OPEN TO GENERAL SEASON SPRING TURKEY HUNTING (BLUE) AND AREAS THAT REQUIRE A CONTROLLED TAG. (IDFG)

Fish and Game’s regional staff give an overview of what’s happening with turkey hunting in their regions:

Panhandle Region

Turkey season in the Panhandle is looking quite good despite the snow that accumulated in the lower elevations late winter.

The region currently has near-normal winter snowpack, but the majority of snow fell later in February and March. Turkeys were likely not stressed for a long period because of the mild early winter conditions. Things should begin to melt soon and with the ample late snowfall we should see a very nice spring green-up due to the abundant moisture.

A challenge for turkey hunters this year might be access due to poor road conditions and the potential for flooding, but there should be abundant turkey numbers. Snow may also hang on in some areas of the region potentially affecting access.

During the spring season, hunters may purchase and use up to two turkey tags; only bearded turkeys may be harvested in spring. As always, remember to respect private property, and ask first before you hunt there.

– Micah Ellstrom, Panhandle Region Wildlife Manager

Clearwater Region

Turkeys are present throughout all forested portions of the region with the highest densities found in and adjacent to the Clearwater River drainage up to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway Rivers, the Snake River drainage up the confluence with the Salmon River, the lower Salmon River drainage up to White Bird, and the Dworshak (Reservoir) area.

Good opportunities for turkey hunting are found on Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, state and federal property, private property, as well as corporate timber land. The entire region is open to general turkey hunting April 8-14 (youth only) and April 15 – May 25 for the general spring season.

Production the past five years has been at or above the long-term average. Relatively mild conditions during the bulk of the past two winters should result in good overwinter survival. Consequently, turkey numbers this hunting season should be comparable to those observed in recent years.

Late winter snows could potentially preclude access to some higher elevation areas depending on weather conditions and snowmelt between now and the opener. The Hunt Planner is a good tool for showing different federal land ownership. For information on corporate timberland, visit websites for the Potlatch Timber Corporation and the Bennett Lumber Company.

– Dave Koehler, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Upper Snake Region

The Upper Snake Region generally has small populations mainly along the Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River.

With the late arrival of winter this year and lower than normal temperatures in February and March, we would anticipate some winter mortalities within the region.  With above normal snowpack in higher elevations in many parts of the region, expect to find turkeys at lower elevations later into the season.

Anticipate stable to slightly declining turkey populations in the region for spring hunting.

– Curtis Hendricks, Upper Snake Region Wildlife Manager

Southeast Region

Turkeys fared extremely well last spring/summer with high production and survival rates resulting in flock increases across the region.

Winter conditions were above average, however, turkey numbers were extremely high this past year, and despite some winter mortality, there should still be robust turkey populations for hunters to enjoy.

During the early period of the spring season, hunters might find turkey distributions to be slightly different due to lingering snow at higher elevations.

– Zach Lockyer, Regional Wildlife Manager

Southwest Region

The turkey outlook in the Nampa subregion of the Southwest Region is good. Winter conditions have been mild in the valley and we expect high overwinter survival in GMU’s 38 and 39.

Additionally, 100 turkeys were trapped on private land near Parma (GMU 38) and relocated to public land on the South Fork Boise River below Anderson Ranch Dam (GMU 39).

Turkeys have been faring well in the Treasure Valley for several years and numbers are up. Spring turkey hunting throughout the area should be good this spring.

– Rick Ward, Regional Wildlife Manager, Nampa Subregion

Turkey numbers are increasing throughout occupied parts of the Southwest Region.  Although many areas saw deep snow this winter, it came late and stayed for a relatively short time, so did not adversely affect turkey populations in most places.

Units 22, 31, 32A and 23 all have general spring turkey hunts, as does a portion of Unit 32. In areas around Cecil D. Andrus WMA, Cambridge, Weiser and Midvale, most turkeys will be at low elevations during the early part of the spring season.

Motorized travel is restricted on Andrus WMA until May 1, but walk-in hunting is welcome.  In addition, there is turkey hunting available on Access Yes properties near Cambridge, Indian Valley, and New Meadows.

– Regan Berkley, Regional Wildlife Manager, McCall Subregion

Salmon Region

The region has low turkey densities, about 400 in Custer County and about 125 to 225 in Lemhi County. There are limited controlled hunts for these birds.

The region likely had some late winter mortality but hunting success rates should remain good. Access will not be a problem due to snow.

– Greg Painter, Salmon Region Wildlife Manager

Magic Valley Region

The region has a limited number of turkeys in Unit 54, with most residing on the west side of the unit. Turkeys are limited to controlled hunts only in the region, and normal survival is anticipated after the winter.

– Mark Fleming, Regional Wildlife Habitat Manager

Oregon Gobbler Hunting Forecast For Spring 2019

Editor’s note: This is an abridged version of Troy Rodakowski’s Oregon spring turkey prospects story that ran in the March 2019 issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine and was written in early February, before heavy winter snows that are now melting fell across eastern portions of the Beaver State.

By Troy Rodakowski

I always wonder where my opening day will take me as I try to think of new options, consider revisiting old haunts and wondering what the new season might have in store.

Talking to a few biologists never hurts and I have found that sometimes they have good insights for hunters looking for new locations and tracking where flocks are moving.

JAYCE WILDER GOT HIS GOBBLER IN 2016 WHILE HUNTING DOUGLAS COUNTY. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

“We are seeing some range expansion in parts of the Columbia Basin and eastern Malheur County, where Idaho birds are pioneering some new areas,” notes Mikal Cline, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s game bird biologist.

The state agency also conducts some trap-and-transplant operations, moving problem birds to more desirable locations, but only to improve existing flocks.

According to several local landowners and turkey hunters there are also improving flocks in the upper Deschutes watershed and locations around Bend, as well as the Hood River Valley.

With below average snowpack and a fairly mild winter – at least as of this writing – larger flocks have been congregating in the lowlands near the mountain ranges of Northeast and Central Oregon. I have also seen some expansion of several flocks throughout the Umpqua River drainage.

According to biologists, we are also seeing some range expansion in southern Wasco and Wheeler Counties, part of the Fremont National Forest north of Lakeview, and south of Ontario. No matter where you look it is very likely that there are some new areas to check out this spring.

NORTH-CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST OREGON SAW QUITE A BIT OF SNOWFALL IN FEBRUARY AND EARLY MARCH, AND WHILE IT IS BEGINNING TO MELT OUT, IT MAY AFFECT WHERE TO HUNT TURKEY AT THE START OF THE SEASON. MATHEW GOODMAN-GRAY GOT HIS TOM DURING SPRING 2015’S HUNT ABOUT A MILE FROM HIS GRANDPA’S PLACE NEAR UNION. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

“The mild winter throughout Oregon has provided good conditions for our wintering turkey flocks,” notes Cline.

It is likely that weather-related mortality will be low, but hens should be going into spring in good physical condition as well.

“This of course also allows the hens to produce plenty of eggs and withstand the energetic needs of incubation,” adds Cline.

We of course have been fooled by mild early and midwinter patterns only to have onslaughts of wet, cold and snowy conditions later on, turning the tables and changing things drastically as we progress into spring.

Of course it is no secret that turkey populations seem to be robust throughout much of the Northwest. Oregon has a very liberal bag limit, with hunters able to purchase three tags apiece throughout the season. The West is becoming a turkey hunting destination for many across the U.S. Throughout Oregon harvest rates have been steady over the past five years, “though this doesn’t reflect the increasing density of wild turkeys that are not in huntable locations,” Cline says.

“Our Eastern Oregon brood survey routes show a 27 percent bump in turkey density from 2017 to 2018, so I would expect a strong showing this spring, particularly in the vicinity of the Umatilla, Malheur, Wallowa-Whitman, and Ochoco National Forests,” she forecasts.

THE TOP FIVE Western Oregon units in recent years have been the Melrose, Rogue, Willamette, Evans Creek and Applegate. All had good harvests, with some of the highest in Melrose and Rogue, followed by Evans Creek and Willamette respectively.

One unit to keep an eye on for this year will be the Siuslaw near Lorane, especially in the southeast portions near the small towns of Drain and Creswell. Also, the McKenzie, Alsea, Chetco and Keno Units have seen increasing numbers of birds on private lands near the foothills.

DON’T TELL THE TRUANT OFFICER BUT KEVIN KENYON MIGHT HAVE SKIPPED SCHOOL A COUPLE SPRINGS AGO TO HUNT TURKEYS WITH HIS UNCLE, SUCCESSFULLY BAGGING THIS WESTERN OREGON TOM. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

In Central and Eastern Oregon, locations near LaGrande, Imbler, Elgin, Union, Cove, Wallowa, Sumpter and Flora all hold decent flocks. The Catherine Creek, Sumpter, Walla Walla, Pine Creek and Minam Units all saw decent harvest in 2017-18. And units that showed significant increases in harvest during the past few years include the Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Keating and Starkey.

Washington 2019 Spring Turkey Hunting Prospects

If 2019 is anything like recent spring gobbler hunts, somewhere around seven out of every 10 toms will be killed in Northeast Washington.

According to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Units 101 through 136 provided 69 percent of 2017’s statewide harvest, 3,331 birds, the third most for this region since 2008.

JEREMY RACE AND HIS SONS, THEN 3 AND 6, SHOW OFF A NORTHEAST WASHINGTON GOBBLER TAKEN DURING THE 2016 SEASON. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

Even though winter struck late and stuck around into March, Annemarie Prince, WDFW’s District 1 wildlife biologist, doesn’t think it will impact turkey numbers.

“The fields in the Colville Valley are already starting to melt out and there are spots under trees that never had much snow,” she said in early March. “I’d say harvest should be similar to last year’s. I can’t see why it would be up or down significantly.”

Hunters typically focus on farms in the Colville, Pend Oreille and other valleys’ floors, as well as the wooded slopes above them, where typically private timberlands and public ground can be found.

“If the snow sticks around, the birds might stay bunched up a little longer in areas without snow,” says Prince. “For the opener, hunters could think about scouting early and contacting private landowners to gain hunting access. I don’t recommend showing up on opening day all decked out in camo and requesting permission. Like in year’s past, I think the map in our hunting prospects showing good areas for turkeys on public lands is helpful and still a good map.”

That’s a reference to a marked-up page in her fall 2018 hunting forecast document, which can be found by going to wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects.

Speaking of bios’ hunting prospects, Michael Atamian’s prognosis for District 2 – Spokane, Lincoln and Whitman Counties – has some interesting details.

Last fall he reported turkeys were doing “very well” in the Mt. Spokane, Mica Peak, Cheney and Roosevelt game units,  which produced 1,132, 232, 410 and 410 birds in 2017 (spring and fall seasons) and that they’re expanding in Harrington, Steptoe and Almota, though these largely open units yielded less than 120 all together.

“Qualitatively, the number of turkeys seen during other survey efforts – moose, deer and elk flights – would indicate the turkey population is healthy in District 2, as would the number of damage complaints our wildlife conflict staff have received,” noted Atamian earlier this month.

“This late winter weather will delay the hens nesting a bit and so decrease their interest in males, which will dampen the strutting a bit, but once the temperatures turn and snow starts to melt off, it will pick up quick,” he forecasted.

Even as his district contributes well to the region’s overall highest-in-the-state take, the knock is the decided lack of public land.

“As for almost all hunting in District 2 some of the best spots are on private ground,” Atamian says, “so I would highly recommend hunters secure private land access if they want to increase their odds.”

There are very scattered patches of state land, and the big paper company’s properties might be another option.

Atamian encourages turkey hunters to also look into fall opportunities.

WHILE THE GENERAL TURKEY SEASON OPENS APRIL 15, YOUNG HUNTERS CAN HEAD AFIELD A WEEK EARLIER FOR THE APRIL 6-7 YOUTH WEEKEND. JOHNNY HONE TOOK HIS NICE TOM DURING 2017’S EDITION. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

To the south, the Blue Mountains harvest has been down from high marks earlier this decade, likely due to increased fall hunts meant to lower damage complaints. In spring 2017, 499 turkeys were taken here, representing 10 percent of the statewide kill.

Assistant wildlife bio Mark Vekasy reported big flocks in late winter, likely due to snows, but with no real winterkill issues to report he expected an average season.

“It seems like turkeys are everywhere we would expect them to be – and lots of places we don’t want them – so I can’t point to any particular areas,” he says.

That said, there are some public lands.

“Some out-of-the-way spots that often don’t get as much pressure are on the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area up beyond the road on Joseph Creek, and the George Creek unit of the Asotin Creek WA. The McDonald Bridge and Swegle Units of the Wooten WA on the Walla Walla River are good ones for disabled hunters to access,” Vekasy tips.

“If you’ve got a boat, it would be fun to access some of the Army Corps of Engineers hunt management units along the Snake River,” he adds. “We saw good numbers of turkeys on the breaks of the Snake River during our mule deer surveys, and I don’t think those turkeys get much pressure at all.”

Vekasy does advise hunters to get ahold of good maps showing HMU boundaries.

Outside of one off-the-charts year, Klickitat County has annually kicked out 370 to 514 birds each spring over the last 10 years, and you can expect that to continue.

“The spring 2018 season looks like it was on par with the four previous seasons, which have been very stable at between 400 to 500 birds harvested and a success rate between 25 to 35 percent,” says WDFW’s Stefanie Bergh. “I expect the same this year.”

While cool, damp weather can impact spring production, she points out that last year was hot and dry, leading her to suspect a good hatch in 2018, which could mean more birds down the road.

The Klickitat Wildlife Area may be most popular, but there are scattered Western Pacific Timber parcels west of Highway 97.

“If hunters can secure access to private lands, especially at lower elevations, their chances of encountering turkeys will be good. We also have a spot for disabled turkey hunters that is part of our Private Lands Access Program,” adds Bergh, pointing to  WDFW’s 40-acre Lovers Lane parcel just east of the town of Klickitat.

KEITH MOEN, THE SUBJECT OF A FEATURE ARTICLE IN A PAST ISSUE OF NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN MAGAZINE, POSES WITH A NICE TURKEY, THE SECOND HE’D TAKEN IN A THREE-YEAR STRETCH AT THE TIME. “OMETIMES IT’S HARDER FOR DISABLED HUNTERS TO GET TO GOOD AREAS AND MAKE A SHOT BUT HE IS BREAKING THE MOLD,” WROTE HIS WIFE MARY IN SENDING THE IMAGE. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

To the north, state managers report that East Cascades flocks are probably at the region’s carrying capacity, in terms of winter severity, available habitat and resident tolerance, though the agency’s latest game report does note an increase in Chelan County in recent years that might be worth checking out.

Turkey Hunting Workshop For Adults Scheduled Near Corvallis Just Before Spring Opener

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Just in time for spring turkey season, ODFW will host a turkey hunting workshop for adult participants (age 18 and older) on Saturday, April 13 at the EE Wilson Wildlife Area, 29555 Camp Adair Rd, Monmouth.

ADULTS INTERESTED IN LEARNING THE INS AND OUTS OF HUNTING GOBBLERS LIKE THIS TOM THAT TIM LOONEY BAGGED IN COOS COUNTY A FEW SEASONS BACK CAN SIGN UP FOR A WORKSHOP BEING HELD AT EE WILSON WILDLIFE AREA JUST BEFORE THE START OF THIS SPRING’S SEASON. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

The workshop will cover choosing the right gear, setting decoys and blinds, spring vs fall hunting tactics, turkey behavior and biology, calling techniques and field dressing and cooking. ODFW will provide shotguns and ammunition for participants to practice shooting and patterning a shotgun.

The cost is $52 and includes lunch. Register by April 6 at ODFW’s Licensing website (be sure to use verify/look up your account if you are a returning ODFW customer). More information at ODFW’s Workshop Event page.

“Turkey hunting is an exciting challenge, an American tradition and a great source of delicious wild protein,” says Brandon Dyches, ODFW hunter recruitment specialist. “Join us and find out why so many hunters get hooked on turkey hunting.”

Spring turkey season is open statewide from April 15-May 31 each year and there is also a general fall season in some parts of the state.

Registration Open For ODFW’s Kids, First-ever Adult Turkey Hunting Workshop

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Get ready for spring turkey hunting season before the season opens statewide on April 15! Register now for one of the three spring turkey hunting workshops ODFW is hosting in early April—two for kids and the first-ever ODFW turkey hunting workshop for adults on April 7 at the White River Wildlife Area in Tygh Valley.

ODFW AND OHA SPONSOR A POPULAR TURKEY HUNTING CLINIC FOR YOUTH AGE 8 TO 17 EVERY YEAR AT THE WHITE RIVER WILDLIFE AREA, SO KIDS CAN BE READY FOR SPRING TURKEY HUNTING SEASON OPENING LATER IN APRIL. (ODFW)

Each workshop will cover turkey hunting skills such as scouting, turkey biology, using a turkey call, and gear. Participants will also get the chance to practice shotgun skills, with all necessary gear (including shotguns and shells) provided by ODFW and partners.

Workshop dates and locations follow; click the event link for more information. Register online at ODFW’s Licensing Page (go to Purchase from Catalog / Class Workshop / Outdoor Skills to see the turkey hunting workshops) or at an ODFW office that sells licenses. Workshop registration is not available at license sale agents. Note that youth or parent must be registering from the youth’s online account to register for the youth-only workshops online at ODFW’s Licensing Page.


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  • Youth turkey hunting clinic (age 17 and under), April 6, Denman Wildlife Area (Central Point), 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost: free, but hunter education certification is required to participate. Hosted by ODFW and Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association. Register by April 1. Email albrechtdg@aol.com with questions.

“Calling in a tom during spring turkey season can be as exciting as calling in an elk,” said Catherine Sander-Korte, ODFW outdoor skills. “These workshops will leave you ready to get outdoors for this spring turkey season.”

Spring turkey season runs April 15-May 31 statewide in Oregon, with a special youth-only hunt April 13-14.

Deadline To Report 2018 Oregon Big Game, Turkey Tags Extended To Mid-April

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The deadline to report all 2018 big game and turkey tags has been extended until April 15, 2019 (from Jan. 31) to give hunters more time to report under ODFW’s new licensing system.

OREGON HUNTERS WILL HAVE THROUGH MID-APRIL TO REPORT THEIR 2018 RESULTS. THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY’S CARL LEWALLEN HARVESTED THIS NICE BLACKTAIL DURING THE LAST HOUR OF THE LATE SEASON. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

The new deadline applies to all 2018 deer, elk, cougar, bear, antelope and turkey tags. Anyone who purchased one of these tags needs to report—even if they were not successful or didn’t go hunting.

Hunters who fail to report a 2018 deer or elk tag by the new deadline of April 15, 2019 will have to pay $25 when they go to purchase their 2020 annual hunting license.

Hunters are encouraged to report online at ODFW’s Licensing page after using the “Verify/Look Up Account” button to find their account in the new licensing system. After verifying their account, hunters will be able to report and see other account information such as preference points, previous year’s application history, and have the option of going paperless for 2019 license and tags.

Hunters can also report by phone to ODFW’s Licensing Division (503) 947-6101. However, ODFW’s Licensing Division is currently experiencing high call volumes from hunters who want to report by phone or have questions about the new licensing system. The deadline extension will help reduce hold times for customers.

Some hunters who inadvertently created a new account online (rather than verifying/looking up their existing account) are not seeing their tags to report on in the online system. Hunters who are experiencing this problem should send an email to ODFW.Websales@state.or.us that includes the ODFW ID# for their incorrect account and their Hunter/Angler ID# (printed on all licenses/tags from 2018 and prior). The problem will be corrected with 10 business days and hunters will be able to report online.

“We are extending the deadline to provide better customer service to our hunters as they get familiar with our new licensing system,” said Doug Cottam, ODFW Wildlife Division Administrator. “We really appreciate hunters taking time to report, even if they did not hunt or weren’t successful.”

Ways to report your big game or turkey tag:

Online – The fastest and easiest way to report. Go to MyODFW.com and click the green “Buy License/Report Hunt” button. If you have not already verified your account on the new system, use the “Verify/Look Up Account” button (see image) and enter your Hunter/Angler ID (printed on all 2018 and prior licenses and tags) as the ODFW ID, or your email or phone number plus last name and date of birth, to find your profile in the system. After completing account verification online, go under Outcome Reporting (see image) and click “Mandatory Reporting” or “Hunting & Fishing Outcome Reporting” to complete your reports for each big game or turkey tag. Note that a unique email address (not shared by anyone else in the system, including a relative) is required for anyone age 12 and older to create an online account and report online.

Computers are also available at some ODFW offices (Adair Village/Corvallis, Bend, Clackamas, La Grande, Portland-Sauvie Island, Roseburg, Salem Headquarters, Springfield, Tillamook) to Verify/Look Up your account and report online.

By phone – Call ODFW Licensing Division at (503) 947-6101 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.). Have your 2018 license or tag available to provide your Hunter/Angler ID number. ODFW staff who take your call will take a few extra minutes to verify your account in the new system. Important note: the number printed in 2018 Oregon Big Game Regulations (1-866-947-6339) was managed by the old license vendor so reports can no longer be accepted at that number.

The information hunters provide through these reports is used to help understand big game population trends and for setting controlled hunt tag numbers and hunting seasons. Hunter reports help ODFW determine how many people went hunting, how many big game animals were harvested, plus antler points and success rates for each hunt—information which is posted at ODFW’s Big Game Hunting Harvest Statistics page at https://myodfw.com/articles/big-game-hunting-harvest-statistics

Chance to win special big game tag

Hunters that report on time are entered into a drawing to win a special big game tag. ODFW selects three names each year and the winners can choose a deer, elk, or pronghorn tag. Hunters who win get an expanded hunt area and extended season, similar to auction and raffle tags.

2017 Idaho Spring Turkey Prospects: ‘Fair-to-good’ Numbers

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Spring turkey hunting outlook: fair to good; general season opens April 15

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 – 11:46 AM MDT

 

Winter decreased some flocks in southern Idaho, but Panhandle and Clearwater should have good hunting

General turkey season opens Saturday, April 15, and you can see units that have general hunts in our turkey hunting rules , as well as details about the seasons. Hunters will find most general hunting opportunity in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southwest Regions, and beyond that most areas are limited to controlled hunts. 

(Idaho Fish and Game)

Higher-than-normal snowfall in much of the state likely decreased turkey populations in some areas, but hunters should still find fair-to-good turkey populations depending on the region. 

“In Southwest and Eastern Idaho we anticipate populations to be down based on field reports, turkey populations remain good in the Clearwater and Panhandle regions,” said Jeff Knetter, upland and migratory bird coordinator. 

Knetter explained turkeys typically cope with winter differently than big game. They typically seek out feed from agriculture operations, such as feed lots and feed lines for livestock. 

In areas where that’s not an option, they can have difficulty surviving winter if they’re unable to get natural food off the ground. Fish and Game in cooperation with the National Wild Turkey Federation fed some birds during winter the Cambridge, Council and Garden Valley areas to help them get through winter. 

Hunters are also warned that many areas have experienced flooding during late winter and early spring, so they should double check access to their favorite hunting spots. They might also encounter lingering snowdrifts that block them from their hunting spot. 

turkeys, spring, Southwest Region

(Photo by Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game)

Fish and Game’s regional wildlife managers give an overview of what’s happening with turkey hunting in their regions. 

Panhandle Region

Turkey season in the Panhandle is looking quite good despite the snow that accumulated in the lower elevations this winter. Wintering turkeys are typically associated with agricultural land, often around livestock feeding operations, so food is usually available.  

Although the region had at near-normal winter snowpack, the winter did not begin in earnest until mid-January and snowfall in December and early January was below normal, so turkeys were not stressed for a long period. Things are now opening up and we’re seeing a very nice spring greenup due to the abundant moisture. 

A challenge for turkey hunters this year might be access due to poor road conditions due to flooding, but there should be abundant turkeys. During the spring season, hunters may purchase and use up to two turkey tags; only toms may be harvested in spring. As always, remember to respect private property, and ask first before you hunt there. 

Wayne Wakkinen, Panhandle Region Wildlife Manager

Clearwater Region

Last fall was warm and wet and early winter and snow pack was below average. This winter has seen what would be historically more normal snowpack, but valley snow levels were above normal. Despite this, turkeys in the Clearwater appear to be doing well. Snow at lower elevations came off relatively early and turkeys have had the advantage of spring green up.

The largest challenge to Clearwater turkey hunters this year will also be access. Warm weather and rain on snow events have caused flooding, road washouts and slides. Additionally, snow is gone at lower elevations, but some hunters will find it difficult accessing some valley hunting spots because of snow drifts on roads at higher elevations.  

Clay Hickey, Clearwater Region Wildlife Manager

Southwest Region

Turkey populations have been increasing steadily the last several years. However, this past winter was hard on turkeys in places experiencing prolonged deep snows. Turkeys along the lower Boise River appear to be doing well. Unit 38 and a portion of Unit 32 are controlled hunts and hunting in low country along waterways often requires landowner permission. The Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area in Unit 38 is open to turkey hunting for controlled-hunt tag holders. 

Units 33 and 39 are general hunts with small turkey populations scattered throughout.

In the northern part of the region, the National Wild Turkey Federation provided feed to private landowners in several areas, which helped turkeys come through the harsh winter pretty well. Access will be limited at higher elevations until sometime in May.  

There are turkey populations at Cecil D. Andrus Wildlife Management Area near Brownlee Reservoir. Motorized travel is restricted on the Andrus WMA until May 1, but walk-in hunting is open.

Hunters can also find Access Yes! properties with turkey hunting opportunities near Indian Valley, and north of New Meadows. 

Rick Ward and Regan Berkely, Southwest Region Wildlife Managers

Magic Valley Region

The region has a limited number of turkeys in Unit 54, with most residing on the west side of the unit. Turkeys are limited to controlled hunts only in the region, and normal survival is anticipated after the winter. 

Daryl Meints, Magic Valley Region Wildlife Manager. 

Upper Snake Region

In general, the Upper Snake has small populations, and the bulk of these turkeys are associated with the South Fork of the Snake River and Snake River riparian areas. Those areas likely had some winter mortality to further depress these limited populations. I would anticipate turkey densities to be slightly below what we have experienced over the last number of years. Hunting is limited to controlled hunts across the region.

Curtis Hendricks, Upper Snake Region Wildlife Manager

Southeast Region

The region has severe winter conditions from late December through March, and anecdotal reports indicate that some winter mortality on turkeys occurred in isolated areas. We anticipate turkey densities to be lower than in previous years. However, turkey numbers were extremely high this past year, and despite some winter mortality, there should still be robust turkey populations for hunters to enjoy. During the early period of the spring season, hunters might find turkey distributions to be slightly different due to lingering snow at higher elevations. 

Zach Lockyer, Southeast Region Wildlife Manager

Salmon Region

The region has low turkey densities, about 400 in Custer County and about 125 in Lemhi County. There are very limited controlled hunts for those birds.  The region likely had some winter mortality to further depress these limited populations and hunt success. Where the turkeys occupy lower elevations in the region, access will not be a problem due to snow.  

Greg Painter, Salmon Region Wildlife Manager

3 Ways To Grind Out May Gobblers

This story was originally posted in the May 2015 edition of Northwest Sportsman Magazine

The back half of spring season is tougher hunting, but there are ways to notch that tag this month.

By Chris Gregersen

[su_dropcap]L[/su_dropcap]et’s face it: Chasing late-season turkeys can be a grind. But just because the birds in your area have wised up to hunters or calmed down from the excitement of the breeding season doesn’t mean you can’t be successful as the spring hunt draws to a close this month.

Chasing gobblers in May can be tough for many reasons. Hunting pressure over the first couple weeks of the season not only thins out the most eager birds, but after a few weeks those toms have heard just about every call out there, as well as seen all sorts of decoy ploys. Chances are that by this time turkeys have already been pushed out of their normal routines, putting them even more on edge when it comes to aggressive calling approaches. Also, as the late season rolls around, those gobblers’ interest and aggression towards calling will start to decline as flocks of hens break up and transition to nesting.

But while there’s no doubt it can be a challenge to bag a late season tom, there’s no reason to hang up the decoys just yet. Here are a few clutch tactics that might save your season.
LESS IS MORE
If the birds are acting shy and wary, nothing will put them off even more than the sounds of an overly eager hen. If you want to bring in a wary late-season bird with calls, you’ll need to sound like, well, a wary lateseason bird. Patience is key at this time of the season, so start by setting up and settling in as close as you can to where you expect a tom to be working through.

When using this approach, you’ll want to call far less often than during the early season, while sticking with your set-up for longer as well. I’ll generally stay put for a couple of hours if I know there are toms in the area. Rather than employ the long, drawn-out yelps that you might use often in the early season to evoke frantic gobbles from hundreds of yards away, tone your calling down to soft and short clucks and purrs. Turkeys have excellent hearing, so don’t worry about broadcasting the sound. At this time of season, it’s more important to focus on finesse than worrying about whether or not you’re being heard.

Aside from calling, lightly raking leaves or other ground clutter to mimic feeding in conjunction with soft purrs and clucks is also a good way to mimic a shy turkey. Be persistent and attentive with your set-up. Toms this time of year will usually take their time coming to
your calls, and more often than not they won’t make a sound as they approach.

THE AMBUSH
When calling approaches and decoy set-ups aren’t working, it’s time to get creative. Setting up an ambush takes preparation and tact, but can be very successful if you’ve done your homework. Start by locating and patterning a tom or two; while this may mean foregoing a hunt to simply observe the birds from far away, it will pay off in the end.

Spotting and stalking may be more associated with fall turkey hunting, but that’s how Emily Pawul took her first gobbler. While far fewer hunters will be afield in May, it’s still important to make sure you don’t bust someone else’s set-up on a bird when using this tactic. (CHRIS GREGERSEN)

Spotting and stalking may be more associated with fall turkey hunting, but that’s how Emily Pawul took her first gobbler. While far fewer hunters will be afield in May, it’s still important to make sure you don’t bust someone else’s set-up on a bird when using this tactic. (CHRIS GREGERSEN)

First, you’ll want to know where the birds are roosting. Chances are you’ll already know where this is, but if not, it usually isn’t difficult to find. You can get a general idea of what area they use by observing their morning and evening activity from a good vantage point – turkeys tend to make quite a bit of noise when going up and coming down from a roost. Then hone in on exactly where they’re roosting by looking for fresh droppings near the bases of trees.

Next, see where the birds are going to feed when they come down. Turkeys feed throughout the morning and late afternoon, so knowing what food sources they are keying in on will help you stay one step ahead. As turkeys feed to and from roost, pay attention to their travel routes; they often follow defined features such as field edges, shrub lines and ridges.

Once you have an idea of the travel routes and feeding areas turkeys are likely to be using, set yourself up in a well-concealed area well before daylight and wait. Hold off on the decoys and focus on keeping your set-up as inconspicuous as possible. Be careful not to approach roosting areas too closely, as the birds’ keen eyesight and hearing can blow your cover before you know it. With some preparation and a little bit of luck, an ambush is an excellent way to tag a wary old tom.
SPOT AND STALK
Though many seasoned spring turkey hunters look down on the spot-and-stalk approach (probably because sloppy attempts have ruined many a set-up of those who have done their homework and were otherwise patiently working a bird) there’s no doubt it can be effective when done right. This technique is all about strategy and implementing a well-devised plan to outsmart a wary late-season tom after patterning and calling have failed. I rarely use the spot-andstalk approach as a go-to technique, instead using it as an opportunistic late-season backup plan when the chance presents itself.

To execute a successful spot-and-stalk, you’ll need both appropriate terrain and cover to sneak within range, as well as an idea of the turkey’s behavior. Keep in mind, most turkeys you’ll “spot” aren’t appropriate for this technique. You’re looking for calm birds close to or moving towards some terrain feature that you can use to your advantage. Turkeys can cover miles in a day, so you’re also looking for birds that are slowly feeding or posting up for a mid-day break.

When the right opportunity presents itself, you’ll want to close the distance as fast as possible, while being especially respectful of other hunters in the area. Approach from any way you can to keep the bird from hearing or seeing you. Using terrain like a ridge, creek draw or steep bank is the best, since it will both block your appearance and sound. Turkeys are very good at evading ground predators, so use the same care you would if stalking a deer.

Spring turkey seasons in the Northwest run in excess of six weeks – through May 25 in Idaho and May 31 in Washington and Oregon – so there’s no need to limit yourself to the times when toms are most susceptible to calling. By adding a bit of variety and strategy to your approach, you can find late-season success when most others have all but given up. NS