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General turkey permits on sale now

This year's statewide turkey hunt begins on April 28.

If you want to experience the thrill of hunting a strutting, gobbling tom turkey, but you don't have a hunting permit yet, no problem — permits to participate in Utah's general turkey hunt go on sale soon.

Permits to participate in Utah’s general statewide turkey hunt go on sale Feb. 20.

Permits to participate in Utah's general statewide turkey hunt go on sale Feb. 20.

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain

Permits for the statewide hunt go on sale Feb. 20. You can buy a permit online, from more than 300 hunting license agents across Utah and at Division of Wildlife Resources offices.

There's no limit to the number of permits that can be sold, so you'll have no problem getting one.

The general statewide hunt starts April 28, 2014.

Advantages

Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the DWR, says in addition to better road conditions and better access, the general hunt in May provides you with advantages you won't find during the limited entry hunt in April.

Those advantages are more time and more areas to hunt.

Robinson says it's very important to hunt turkeys when the birds are gobbling. "That's when the male turkeys, called toms, will be most receptive to your call," he says.

Unfortunately, weather in the spring can often put a damper on turkey activity.

"Wet and cold weather can decrease the period of time when turkeys are gobbling," Robinson says. "The limited entry hunt runs for only two weeks. The general hunt, on the other hand, runs for four weeks. Hunting during the general hunt doubles the amount of time you'll have to be in the field at the right time — when the turkeys are gobbling."

Robinson says two peak gobbling periods happen in the spring. The first usually happens in early April, when tom turkeys call aggressively at the start of the breeding season. The second peak happens during the general hunt in May. That's when toms are actively seeking hens that haven't bred yet or that need to breed again because their nests have failed.

While it might be hard to believe, an additional advantage to the general hunt is a feeling that fewer hunters are in the field with you. "Hunters consistently tell us that they feel less crowded during the general hunt, even though more hunters are in the field," Robinson says.

Robinson thinks this feeling has a lot to do with perception. "If you draw a limited entry permit," he says, "you might feel crowded, even if there's just one other hunter in the area you're hunting. Hunters expect to see other hunters in the field during the general hunt, and they don't seem to mind it as much."

Turkey numbers are growing

After a tough winter and spring a couple of years ago, Robinson says turkey numbers appear to be on the rise. In fact, turkey habitat in northern Utah has enough birds in it that DWR biologists have started moving extra birds to northeastern Utah, to start new populations there.

In central and southwestern Utah, populations in certain parts of the regions are doing well enough that biologists are now moving birds to other areas within the regions. And, if trapping conditions in South Dakota are favorable this winter, about 100 turkeys from South Dakota should be transported and released into new areas in southeastern Utah.

"Wild turkeys are doing really well in Utah," Robinson says. "If you put the birds in the right habitat, they'll flourish."

More information

More information about hunting wild turkeys in Utah is available in the free 2013–2014 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook.

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