2013 Turkey Season Forecast
Monday, December 9, 2013
Turkey hunting opportunities are provided statewide; however, turkeys are most numerous in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions in north Idaho. Hunting opportunities are found on both public and private property. Fish and Game’s Hunt Planner and Access Yes! are good tools for exploring hunting in Idaho and access to private lands for turkey hunting.Panhandle Region
Turkeys are present throughout all forested portions of the region with the highest densities found in and adjacent to the Clearwater River drainage, Snake River drainage, lower Salmon River drainage and the Dworshak (Reservoir) area. Good hunting opportunity in these areas include the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, state and federal lands, private property, as well as corporate timberland.
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.
The entire Clearwater region is open to general turkey hunting April 8-14 (youth only) and April 15 - May 25, Sept. 15 - Oct. 9, and certain units on private property are open from Nov. 21 – Dec. 31.
Winter surveys in 2012 and 2013 show a shift in turkey populations in the Southwest region. Although winter turkey counts represent a minimum count of the population, they do provide some trend data. Results from the 2013 surveys suggest an overall increase of 14% more turkeys counted than in 2012. Following are the results by unit for 2012 and 2013.
Unit 38, which consistently provides quality turkey hunting opportunities by Controlled Hunt, was not included in these surveys. Other quality hunt areas in Southwest Idaho include:
Access to higher elevation hunting areas should be improved this year due to the low snowpack and mild spring.Magic Valley Region
Most hunting opportunity is on private property. Where turkeys are present on public lands, access is often limited by either private property or spring road conditions. Road conditions this spring should be relatively good due to the lighter than average snowfall in most of Southeast Idaho.
Fall hunting opportunities are by controlled hunt only, with hunts in Units 73, 74, 75, 77, and 78 from Sept. 15 – Oct. 31, and in Unit 71 from Sept. 15-Nov. 30, as well as a youth hunt in Unit 71 from Sept 15-Dec. 31.
Upper Snake Region
Good wild turkey hunting opportunities in the Upper Snake Region exist within the Henry’s Fork drainage, Teton River drainage, and the highest population in the South Fork Snake River drainage. Small populations of turkeys are found in the Big Lost River drainage. While most of the land ownership throughout these drainages is private, there is state and federal land that provide good habitat for turkeys. Responsible hunters should be aware of private and public land boundaries.
Mild to average winter conditions persisted throughout the Upper Snake for the last two years which should result in high survival rates and recruitment.
Although the entire region is on a controlled hunt system, a successfully drawn tag will allow for hunting throughout the entire region. Of the 300 tags available, there are 50 youth-only tags from April 8-May 25, an early hunt of 125 tags from April 15-30, a hunt with 125 tags from May 1-25, and a late youth-only hunt with 25 tags from Sept. 15-Nov.30.
Salmon Region has very limited turkey hunting opportunity with only 20 controlled hunt tags available (15 regular, 5 youth). Turkeys in the region are restricted almost exclusively to private lands along the Salmon River and major tributaries from Challis to Ellis. Therefore, access is challenging. Prospective hunters should gain permission to hunt before applying for tags.