Utah’s spring general-season turkey hunts are about to get underway, and if you like the idea of harvesting your own delicious bird, it’s not too late to buy a permit and research an area to hunt.
Utah’s youth turkey hunt runs from April 30 to May 2, and the spring general-season turkey hunt runs from May 3-31.
Here’s what hunters should know about the upcoming general-season and youth hunts:
Populations trending upward
There are two turkey subspecies that live in Utah: Rio Grande and Merriam’s. There are currently between 25,000-35,000 wild turkeys throughout the state.
“Harsh winters are really hard on turkeys, so the mild winter we have had this year will have resulted in less winter kill,” DWR Upland Game Coordinator Heather Talley said. “Other good news for hunters is that the mild winter also allows the turkeys to stay in public areas longer, and hopefully has kept them from moving into residential areas in search of food. The populations have been trending slightly upward in the last five years. If we don’t get a lot of cold weather while the chicks are young this spring — and if there are enough habitat areas with water, flowering plants and insects available — I foresee a good production year for turkeys.”
Where to hunt
In Northern Utah, many turkeys can be found on private property around Morgan, Croydon, Huntsville, Eden and Mountain Green, but hunters must get written permission from the landowner to hunt on private properties. Turkeys can also be found on public land in Cache Valley, including Blacksmith Fork Canyon, the Richmond Wildlife Management Area (along Cherry Creek), the Wellsville Range above Wellsville and Mendon, and Walk-in Access areas around Clarkston.
In Box Elder County, there are turkeys on the Raft River Mountains near Clear Creek, One Mile Creek, Johnson Creek and Wildcat Creek.
Rio Grande turkeys are usually found at lower elevations. River bottoms dotted with cottonwood trees and areas containing mostly oak and pinyon-juniper trees are some of their favorite spots. Merriam’s turkeys, on the other hand, are typically found in ponderosa pine forests at higher elevations.
If you’re planning to hunt, try to get out and scout a few days before your hunt begins. Becoming familiar with the area and locating where the turkeys are is key to a successful hunt. You should spend time observing the turkeys’ daily patterns so that during the hunt, you can set up in an area where the birds will be active. Typically, more turkeys are harvested between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. than during any other time of day.
“Turkeys are often found on private property, so be aware of the land ownership in the area you're hunting and remember that you must get written permission from the landowner before you can hunt on their property,” Talley said. “Also, calls and decoys can greatly increase your success, so take time to practice with those beforehand. And lastly, turkeys have incredible eyesight so be sure to wear good camo and sit very still.”
For other general turkey hunting tips, visit the DWR website at wildlife.utah.gov.
Buying a turkey permit
You can buy a permit for the statewide general season anytime between now and when the hunt ends on May 31. General-season permits are available on the DWR website or at a variety of license agent locations and DWR offices.
For more information on season dates and permits, check the 2020-21 Utah Upland Game & Turkey Guidebook. For information on legal weapon types, see page 23 in the guidebook, and note that rimfire firearms are not legal for the spring turkey seasons. The free guidebook is available on the DWR website or at hunting license agent locations and DWR offices.