Turkey hunting is becoming more and more popular in the state of Idaho. Back in 1987 there was a "record high" of 814 tags sold! And, last year there were around 3,000 turkeys harvested! There must have been something like 8,000 tags sold.
Of course increased tag sales means more hunters in the field, and since the turkey populous is often concentrated on private lands, landowner-hunter conflicts are certain to increase. To ensure the future of the sport, itís imperative that hunters respect the rights of all landholders. It may even be necessary to police our own ranks and try to impress upon the troublemakers the importance of cooperation. The future of turkey hunting in Idaho may be short-lived if some attitudes of a few hunters arenít changed.
Calling a mature tom to within lethal shotgun range is, in my opinion, the ultimate sport. There are enough heartthrobbing, adrenaline pumping moments to satisfy the most discriminating hunter. Requirements are persistence, patience and a good knowledge of the bird and its habitat. Consistently successful hunters arenít lucky. Theyíve spent enough time researching their intended hunting areas to know where the big birds eat, sleep, rest and play. Itís also a safe bet to say the master turkey hunter knows the whereabouts of the most-used strutting areas weeks before the season is open.
Even though it is not illegal, all turkey hunters I know (and respect) consider it unethical to shoot a turkey on its roost.
Although turkey calling skills are important, beginners shouldnít be discouraged because they sound more like a chicken than a tom turkey. A mediocre caller can on occasion sucker in a jake (first-year tom) to within range. Sometimes hunting pressure, weather conditions, luck, tom-to-hen ratios and location of the caller determine the outcome rather than asqueaky call. Oodles and oodles of practice, both indoors with todayís excellent turkey hunting videos, and outdoors with the real thing, is what it takes to fine-tune the novice into a master turkey caller.
The state of Idaho hasnít yet suffered any turkey hunting fatalities that Iím aware of, but as the sport gains even more popularity, the potential for serious accidents is going to increase.
I was stalked once by a turkey hunter while I began a series of soft clucks and purrs to see if I could interest a couple of gobblers I knew were roosting on the ridge above me. I heard the unmistakable sound of someone straddling a barbed wire fence. I was terrified, and dared not move. I chose to call out instead. Seconds later, I caught a glimpse of the embarrassed hunter as he was sneaking away.
This year we have both a spring and fall season! So, be careful out there folks.
GENERAL HUNT TURKEY SEASONS
∑ April 15, 1999 through May 25, 1999
General Hunts in Game Management Units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,
17, 18, 22, 31, 32, 32A, 33, 39.
∑ May 1, 1999 through May 25, 1999
Game Management Unit 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut WMA), and Units 3, 4, 5, 6.
CONTROLLED HUNTS (limited permits acquired through a drawing only)
All spring wild turkey hunters may apply for a fall turkey controlled hunt permit during the same calendar year.
Application Dates: Spring hunt application period: January 15, 1999 to February 15, 1999. Fall hunt application period: May 1, 1999 to May 31, 1999
On 1999 controlled hunts, not more than 10 percent of the permits may be issued to nonresidents.
See 1999 Idaho Turkey Rules for a listing of the controlled hunts (page 12), plus all other pertinent information regarding turkey hunts and applications. Get copies at your local sporting goods vendors , Fish & Game vendor, or any F&G office.