11 Years Later - Idaho Turkey Hunt

A quick 11 years has past since we last hunted turkeys in Idaho. And now we find ourselves right back at the same spot where we began our rookie season hunting for turkeys. This year the regulations have changed such that a hunter can take two turkeys within the same day, so that will be the goal for youth hunter Carson.

We left home on Friday morning, two days before the youth turkey hunt opener. It poured rain all the way to our destination but finally stopped raining just as we arrived at camp. Once the tent was up, we slogged along the rain soaked foothills scouting for turkeys. By the time we settled in for the night we had seen 30 turkeys with most of them being jakes, definitely shooters.

turkey Gobbler in full strut i went hunting turkey long beard

                     Gobbler in full strut                                                       Long beard seen through spotting scope 

Saturday morning at first light we awoke to a light misty rain, so we decided to skip the scouting trip and instead hunker down in our sleeping bags until the weather cleared. About three hours later the amplified pitter-patter of rain, beating on the tent walls, quit. We didn’t even have a chance to get out of our bags before we heard the spine tingling sound of turkeys yelping and gobbling in the distance! We scrambled to open the tent door and peered out across the way and there in the meadow ahead were a flock of turkeys, three were gobblers in full strut! We never did venture far from camp since the rain continued on and off all day long. And once evening arrived the weather turned really nasty. Flashes of lightening lit up our tent as the thunder clapped and the rain came down in sheets. It wasn’t until about 2:30 a.m. before the rain subsided and by morning only a light mist fell.

We were up and out of camp about 30 minutes before dawn and by slightly after daybreak we had our decoys set. We were located at the far end of a 600 yard meadow that gave way to an oak brush covered side hill which offered us sufficient cover. Now all we had to do was to lure a bearded turkey into our decoys. I hadn’t quite got myself settled when Carson whispered that he had just spotted a turkey in mid-flight. To him it looked like the turkey might have landed about 150 yards away. I rooted around my pocket and finally pulled out a box, pot and diaphragm call and let out some yelps, clucks and soft purrs. Ten minutes later a big dark mass of feathers was making its way down through the oak brush from behind us. Neither of us dared turn our heads far enough to clearly identify the turkey since it was already in such close proximity. Patiently Carson waited with his 20 gauge positioned in the direction of our decoys. The turkey continued its approach. When the Merriam’s finally came to a stop it was only 11 yards away. As it studied our decoys, we could clearly see the big red head of a jake. Carson slowly took aim and in a single shot he had his first Idaho turkey!

turkey in our decoys jake checking out our decoys

            Jake still checking out our hen decoy                           After having had enough of our jake decoy 

Thinking that we might be able to draw additional turkeys to our spread, we called sparingly for the next 2 ½ hours. A light rain that turned into snow pellets finally got the best of us so we decided to relocate knowing that a small hike would get our blood flowing again. After about 30 minutes we came upon an area that had fresh turkey sign so we setup and did a little calling. Without getting a response, we decided to head a little further into the oak brush stand ahead. We hadn’t gone far when we suddenly spotted several turkeys up ahead, but unfortunately we were 90% sure that they had also spotted us. Thinking that we were most likely busted, we decided to backtrack and head right back to our previous calling location to try the calling tactic once more. Again, our calling didn’t produce any response so after 20 minutes we figured we didn’t have anything to lose and decided to pursue the turkeys we’d seen.

Youth turkey hunt calling turkey
                A big thumbs up from Carson! Smoked 'em at 11 yards with the 20 gauge


Minutes later we arrived at the exact location where we had stood less than 30 minutes before and much to our surprise, turkey heads were bobbing up and down in the low scrub brush ahead, exactly where we had last seen them. Instantly we dropped to our knees. After a whispered discussion we decided that sneaking forward another 15 yards was the best course of action. When we finally came to a stop, the 39 yards separating us from the flock was a bit farther than we liked but we dared not move any closer since we had run out of cover. At this point I told Carson to get ready because I was going to make some soft clucks in hopes of luring them out from behind the brush.

Idaho youth turkey hunt with two bearded turkeys I went hunting turkeys idaho youth turkey hunt

           Heading to camp with both of his turkeys                                    Proud Dad with son's turkey double 

The first turkey sounds out of my mouth had the small flock’s full attention. Of course we remained motionless. It took a couple of minutes to coax the turkeys five feet to the left, but finally four turkeys became clearly visible. We looked over each of them carefully and could see that all four were jakes. It took a couple more minutes before the three turkeys cleared the one, leaving the loaner jake standing solo. Another single blast from Carson’s 20 gauge did the trick, his bird dropped in its tracks! Then what happened next was unexpected. In unison twenty five turkeys exploded from the brush ten feet from their fallen comrade and in spectacular fashion beat their wings until they were high enough to clear the oak brush and disappeared from sight as they sailed off the side of the mountain. Our guess is that these jakes were not interested in coming to our calls since they must have been beaten down by some big old gobblers that rule the roost and they must have been avoiding hens at all costs. At least I hope that theory is correct because I’ll be back next week to hunt the general season in hopes of finding one of those old cagey long beards. 

wild turkey dinner
                                       Enjoying a fresh wild turkey dinner!


These are the 2018 non-resident costs - Adult $275.78, Youth $77.50, Total $353.28 including processing fees.

The costs break down like this: Adult small game license $97.75, turkey tag $80, extra turkey tag $80, conservation tag $10

Junior mentored hunting license $31.75, turkey tag $19.75, extra turkey $19.75