Spring Turkey Hunt - Utah

 

 

Spring Turkey Hunt - Utah

 

2008 is the first year that my son Dallas and I have had turkey tags in Utah. We didn’t draw out for the limited entry hunt, but we were lucky enough to purchase 2nd season tags for the southern Utah region.

 

The turkey population in Utah is on the rise, so for the first time ever the State opened up a second turkey season which runs most the month of May. For us, living in northern Utah meant that we had no idea where to find turkeys in southern Utah. That was okay with us because that meant we’d have the perfect excuse to make a few scouting trips to Southern Utah looking for turkeys.

 

We really had no idea where to find turkeys down south, so we started by using Google maps. What we did was to look up a general area using the “map” feature and then switched over to the “satellite” view. This way we could locate the canyons and streams, which we hoped would contain suitable roosting trees where turkeys would lurk.

 

After zeroing in on 5 or so areas, we were ready to go! Well, that is we were mentally ready to go…now we had to wait for a couple of months for the snow to melt!

 

Turkeys escaping into the rocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring finally arrived, so an April trip was planned. Just as we’d hoped, we located turkeys in 2 of the 5 spots we checked out. Not only did we see turkeys, we were able to call in a few and got pictures and video. If we had only had tags for the April hunt, we’d have filled our tags. Now our biggest fear was that May would find the turkeys hanging out in these same places…

 

Called in these strutting gobblers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The southern Utah hunt started on a Monday, May 5th.  Due to school and work schedules, we wouldn’t be able to hunt on opening day.  However, right at dark Tuesday evening I left home headed for southern Utah…alone. Dallas would come down later in the week after his high school classes. I arrived sometime past midnight, threw my sleeping bag in the bed of my truck and slept under the stars.

 

Couple of feeding gobblers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waking to the brisk spring morning, I got started at 5:45 a.m. I hunted all day long without ever hearing or seeing a turkey. I did manage to see one turkey track in the mud near a melting snow drift, but that was it.  Were there turkeys in the area? Had they quit gobbling during this time of spring? I wasn’t going to take any chances, I moved to the other location where I’d seen turkeys a month before.

 

Same story…I arrived at the new area well after dark, through my sleeping bag in the bed of my truck and slept under the stars, again. At 5:45 a.m. I looked at my watch, I was exhausted! I pulled my bag over my head and slept for another hour or so.

 

At 7:00 a.m. I shot out of my sleeping bag, got my gear together and headed out. I was less than 100 yards from my truck, but figured I ought to try calling since this was the exact area where I had seen turkeys before. I was on the edge of the trees overlooking a big clearing when I broke out my friction call and let out a few yelps. It hadn’t been two minutes and there they were…7 turkeys at the far end of the clearing, 150 yards away! I hunkered down against the small rise that led from the cover of the trees to the big open clearing. I made a few soft clucks…they started walking right out into the clearing in single file! I could hardly believe my eyes…my heart was pounding…this was going to get interesting.

 

It quickly became apparent that these turkeys were going to continue moving forward, but they were marching right along the other edge of the clearing parallel to my location, 100 yards away. When the flock passed directly across from me, I made a few more clucks with my call…no response, no acknowledgement, nothing.  They were moving further away, so in desperation I made a few yelps. That got their attention…a couple of turkeys paused, yelped, but continued on their way. Oh know! I tried yelping several more times and got the same results each time. It wasn’t until the turkeys had gone another hundred yards passed the point of being perpendicular to me, when the big tom let out a gobble. I quickly reached for my gobbler call and returned a gobble of my own. The entire flock froze! Several seconds passed (it seemed like an eternity) and then the most amazing thing happened, the entire group started walking directly toward me! I was peering across the clearing, at eye level with the tops of their exposed legs, when they reached the center. The entire flock, cautious in their approach, strained to locate the birds that must be 85 yards or so ahead of them. At that moment, a few soft purrs drifted from my call. Here they came…

 

My mind was racing a million miles an hour…! Only yesterday my plans had been to locate the birds over the next couple of days and wait for my son to arrive before shooting one for myself. It would be way more fun to experience the hunt with him at my side. But…I had hunted an entire day without ever seeing or hearing a bird. And there was the possibility that I’d never see any other birds besides the ones that were 65 yards in front of me. Or if we did see this group again, would they be so wary that they would never come to our calls? They were at 45 yards…the few small randomly occurring bushes were now starting to obstruct my view. Even though the bushes were no more than eighteen inches high, I couldn’t see past them. At 35 yards, I could only see four of the six jakes…the big gobbler was nowhere to be seen. My mind was still racing, should I wait for the big gobbler? Would one of the jakes bust me? Had the gobbler hung up 45 yards out? Should I shoot a turkey today or wait for Dallas?

 

My mind was made up…I was going to take a shot. Suddenly, two of the jakes were right on top of me. At 10 yards I didn’t have a shot, both jakes were standing inches from each other…I had to wait. Several other turkeys must have been just as close, but I could only hear their clucks. Where was the big tom? As quickly as they had appeared, the two jakes were out of sight. With my mind still a racing, I wondered if I had just blown my only opportunity…I could have nailed a jake at 35 yards. Right then and there I decided that I would take the next jake that presented a shot.

 

First Utah turkey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty seconds later, there it was! Mr. turkey stepped out from behind a small bush, right in front of my already leveled 12 gauge barrel.  I couldn’t wait to call home and tell of the wily jake that I had just taken!

 

Southern Utah Merriam's turkey