BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
WOODS CROSS – The Thanksgiving holiday is over, but the chance to see turkeys in their habitat isn’t.
After being able to view them, turkey hunting enthusiasts will also get the opportunity to apply for the 2014 turkey hunt in February.
Jason Robinson of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said December is one of the best times of the year to see turkeys. Thanks to their overall population numbers, Utah is also one of the best states for turkeys.
About 20,000 of the birds live in the state, Robinson said.
“It’s tough to get a solid estimate,” he said in a press release sent to the Clipper, “but based on the number of male turkeys hunters took this past spring, we estimate the state’s population at more than 20,000 birds.”
The winter months of November, December and January are the best times to view turkeys as well.
Robinson said turkeys typically stay in the lower elevations of Utah until about March. When the snow melts and weather gets warmer, they will start moving towards the higher elevations in the state, Robinson said.
April, he said, is the most exciting time to see the birds.
“The males are in their bright, colorful breeding plumage,” Robinson said. “Watching them strut and gobble as they try to draw the attention of females is one of the most exciting and interesting things you’ll see.”
They are, however, more difficult to find in the warmer months.
“It’s a matter of being at the right place at the right time,” he said.
After being able to view the birds through the winter months, hunters will have the opportunity to hunt the birds in February, and applications for permits are currently being accepted.
Utah DWR started accepting applications for the turkey hunt on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Hunters who applied for a limited entry permit, but weren’t able to draw one, can still hunt turkeys by purchasing a general turkey hunting permit in February.
More than 9,000 hunters applied for the 2,500 limited entry permits last season, and more than 6,500 hunters bought a permit during the general turkey hunt.
About 41 percent of hunters that drew a limited entry permit last year were able to take home one, and 21 percent of general season hunters took home one as well.
“Both of those success rates are really good,” Robinson said.
Applications to hunt turkeys must be received no later than 11 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23. DWR estimates about 400 permits will be available for the northern region.
The limited entry hunt starts on Saturday, April 12 and goes until Thursday, April 24. The general turkey hunt begins on April 28 and runs through the end of May.
To apply for a limited entry turkey permit, visit wildlife.utah.gov.