Get ready for gobblers: legally harvesting spring turkey in the Panhandle

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    Creative Commons Licence
    Carson Watkins

Are you dreaming of faint gobbles in the distance?

With spring just around the corner, many sportsmen cannot wait to get outside to chase turkey gobbles around the Panhandle woods. While dreaming of hunting that beautiful tom turkey with a long, thick beard, the thought of running into a Conservation Officer, also with a thick beard, may dart into your mind.

Whether you are a seasoned sportsman or new to hunting, understanding the rules and regulations will help you to enjoy the hunt and smile when you see a Conservation Officer.

Before the hunt

You may be wondering where to start. First, you will need a 2019 hunting license or passport. Your license can be purchased online, at any Fish and Game vendor or at any regional office. To legally hunt turkey you will also need a tag for each turkey you plan to harvest— either a general tag or an extra turkey tag. These tags can be purchased at any time of year.

Two turkey tags may be used during the general spring season–one general and one extra turkey tag. You may harvest as many turkeys as you have tags for in the season; there is no waiting period for the use of your second tag. During the spring, the daily bag limit is two bearded turkeys per day and no more than two bearded turkeys per spring season. Before venturing out make sure you have your hunting license and tags with you.

In the 2019 Upland Game regulations you can find all the rules for turkey hunting. If you have any questions concerning these regulations contact your local Conservation Officer or the Coeur d’Alene Regional Office at (208)-769-1414.

Wild Turkey Season 2019:

General spring season: April 15-May 25

General spring youth hunt: April 8-14

All of the Panhandle Region is open for the general turkey season except Units 7 and 9 (upper St. Joe).

Taking care of your bird

So what to do when you harvest that prized long-beard? The first thing you’ll want to do is validate your tag and immediately attach it to the largest portion of the turkey. Be sure the beard or leg is left naturally attached to the carcass during transport so officers can tell the gender of the bird. Then plop down behind that bird, fan out the tail, smile wide and take a picture of a hunt well done.

Now enjoy the fruits of your labor and take your bird home and whip up your favorite recipe. Whether you prefer to cook your bird whole, smoke your turkey meat, or make breakfast sausage be sure to try out a few of our favorite recipes. Steve Rinella’s Turkey Apple Sausage is one of our family’s breakfast favorites. Or try out Hank Shaw’s delicious Korean BBQ turkey wings for dinner. Explore different wild game recipes and create some favorites of your own.

Hunting turkeys in the spring in northern Idaho is a great opportunity to get outdoors and to take youth or new hunters out for an experience to remember. By understanding the rules and regulations you can take comfort knowing that you’re participating in spring turkey hunting the appropriate way, continue to dream of turkey gobbles and stop worrying about running into that Conservation Officer. Stay safe and good luck!

-Your friendly local Conservation Officer