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Idaho Fish and Game

Young turkey hunter with prize tom turkey / Photo by Kelton Hatch

Spring turkey hunting outlook looking good for 2023, similar to 2022


Season opens April 8 for youth, April 15 for general hunt

Despite a heavy winter that’s blanketed much of the state, Fish and Game biologists are optimistic about expectations for this year’s spring turkey hunt. 

Youth turkey season opens April 8, and the general turkey season and many controlled hunts open April 15. Hunters can see which units have general hunts in Fish and Game's turkey hunting rules, in addition to details about the seasons.

girl with her turkey from the youth turkey hunt at the Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area WMA April 2014

Hunters will find most general hunting opportunity in the Panhandle, Clearwater, Southwest and Southeast regions, while most other areas are limited to controlled hunts. In each of the regions with general hunting opportunity, turkey populations are faring well, and the hunting outlook is as good as or better than recent years.

“Idaho continues to provide some of the highest turkey hunting success rates in the country,” said Jeff Knetter, Fish and Game Upland Game & Migratory Game Bird Coordinator. “While above average winter conditions will have likely impacted turkey numbers regionally, the general outlook for turkey hunting this spring is positive. Abundant turkeys and a wide variety of public and private land access make for excellent wild turkey hunting opportunities in Idaho.”

Fish and Game wildlife managers from each of the state’s seven regions have been monitoring regional turkey populations throughout winter and share some insights into how each region’s turkey populations are looking so far this year. 

Panhandle Region

Despite low-elevation snowfall that occurred earlier and persisted throughout the winter, we expect overwinter survival to be good. Panhandle turkey populations are often associated with lower elevations including agricultural areas where food resources tend to be available. Hunters should see plenty of turkeys again this year. 

While all of the Panhandle Region is open to general season turkey hunting opportunity, hunters will find the highest concentrations of turkeys in the lower elevation Units 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Hunters may want to look towards the lower Priest River and lower Coeur d’Alene River drainages, as well as the lower elevations adjacent to the Kootenai River for higher densities of turkeys. 

As a reminder, there is now an archery turkey hunting opportunity within the Farragut State Park/WMA complex. This archery-only season, which occurs April 15-30, is only open to the use of archery equipment and all other turkey hunting rules must be followed. There are certain areas within the state park/WMA that are closed to hunting, and archery hunters should stop by the Farragut State Park visitor center during their normal business hours to learn more about this opportunity and to pick up a map of the hunting area. 

As always, please remember to respect the land and the landowner, and to ask permission prior to hunting private lands.

Micah Ellstrom - Panhandle Regional Wildlife Manager 


Clearwater Region

Overall, the 2023 spring turkey hunting outlook for the Clearwater Region is looking good after mild winters the past five years. Turkey numbers this hunting season should be comparable to recent years. 

Turkeys are present throughout all forested portions of the Clearwater Region with the highest densities found in and adjacent to the Clearwater River drainage up to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers, the Snake River drainage up to the confluence with the salmon River, the lower Salmon River drainage up to White Bird and the Dworshak Reservoir area. 

Good turkey hunting opportunities can be found on Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area south of Lewiston, state and federal property, private property and corporate timber lands such as Potlatch Timber Corporation and Bennett Lumber Company. For information on corporate timberland, visit Fish and Game’s Large Tracts Access Program which provides public access to thousands of acres of private timberland.

Jana Ashling - Clearwater Regional Wildlife Manager

Southwest Region – Nampa

The turkey outlook in the Nampa subregion of the Southwest Region is good. Winter conditions have been average in the Treasure Valley, and we anticipate a decent overwinter survival in Units 33, 38 and 39.

The region has similar hunting opportunities in 2023 as it did in 2022. Unit 38 has general youth opportunity and two controlled hunt opportunities with 100 tags each. The primary limitation in Unit 38 continues to be access to private property where most turkeys reside. We ask hunters to be respectful of landowners and to always ask permission before hunting on private property.

Unit 39 harvest and success rates were stable in 2022. Turkeys follow the spring green up to higher elevations as weather conditions warm, which should make turkeys available on public lands by the opener.

Unit 33 hunter numbers decreased in 2022, but saw a five-year high in harvest and success rate. Early season turkey opportunity is typically limited to private lands along the Middle Fork of the Payette. As the weather improves birds will move up onto public land.

Ryan Walrath - Southwest Regional Wildlife Manager - Nampa


Southwest Region – McCall

Overwinter survival is expected to be average or better, which should make for good turkey hunting this spring. A change in feed site locations as well as some unpredictable weather patterns this spring appear to have shifted turkey distribution along Highway 71. Turkey hunting opportunity in the McCall subregion remains unchanged with general spring turkey hunts in Units 22, 23, 31, most of 32 and 32A. 

Snowpack is above average this year and melting slower, which means birds will still be concentrated at lower elevations for the opener and access into higher elevation habitat will likely be delayed this year. 

Motorized travel is restricted on Andrus WMA until May 1, but walk-in hunting is welcome. In addition, there is turkey hunting available on Access Yes! properties near Cambridge, Indian Valley and New Meadows, and several landowners allow access on a case-by-case basis.

Regan Berkley - Southwest Regional Wildlife Manager – McCall 

Magic Valley Region

The Magic Valley Region has limited turkey hunting opportunities, with only two spring controlled hunts offered in Unit 54 with a total of 30 tags. Turkeys are primarily found on or near Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area. Turkeys follow the snow line up as spring progresses and are more widely distributed later in the hunting season. 

Over the past several years this turkey population has declined due to a combination of several environmental conditions; however, a spike in reproduction during spring 2022 has bolstered the local population near the Big Cottonwood WMA. This boost in production should provide more opportunity for the lucky tag holders in this unit.

Jake Powell - Magic Valley Regional Wildlife Manager

Southeast Region

Winter conditions were well above average this year, and as such, overwinter survival is expected to be below average. That being said, most turkeys in the Southeast Region find refuge on private lands in the winter months and may attain higher-than-expected survival rates. Drought conditions this past summer could have negatively impacted chick survival; however, Fish and Game did not measure drought impacts.

Hunters should expect slightly decreased turkey numbers compared to last spring. Turkey distribution may also be impacted by the significant snowpack still present across much of the region. 

Hunters will find turkeys in Units 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 77 and 78. Highest concentrations of turkeys are found on the western sides of the Bear River and Portneuf mountain ranges. Other portions of the region have more sporadic and patchy distributions of turkeys. Many birds are associated with private lands, and hunters are urged to be respectful of private properties and landowners when pursuing turkeys.

Zach Lockyer - Southeast Regional Wildlife Manager

family after successful turkey hunt

Upper Snake Region

Winter arrived early with snow and cold temperatures coming in November followed by above-normal snowpack across most of the region. Hunters will likely find most turkey hunting opportunities at lower elevations. Due to above average winter conditions, hunters should anticipate stable to slightly declining turkey populations in the region this spring.

Turkey populations in the Upper Snake Region are mainly found along the Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River as well as major drainages that funnel to these two river systems. Turkey hunting is limited to controlled hunts for both spring and fall seasons in the region, and there are some youth-only hunts available for young hunters. 

The region likely had some late-winter mortality, but hunting success rates should remain stable. The region is home to a lot of private property along the Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River, so be sure to ask first to hunt on private land.

Curtis Hendricks - Upper Snake Regional Wildlife Manager 

Salmon Region

With moderate to mild winter conditions, the Salmon Region is seeing good overwinter turkey survival. Winter population counts showed a relatively stable population in the Salmon area. Turkey distributions appear to be expanding, and although winter surveys were not conducted in the Challis area, anecdotal observations suggest numbers are slightly down from previous years. 

Currently, all turkey hunting in the Salmon Region is regulated through controlled hunts for both spring and fall seasons. Hunting opportunities were expanded in 2022 for all spring and fall controlled hunts. This was in response to growing populations. 

With expansion in turkey distribution, we are starting to see more birds on public land, but we still want everyone to know it is primarily a private-land hunt at this time.

Dennis Newman - Salmon Regional Wildlife Manager