The youth turkey season opens Monday, April 8, and the general turkey season and many controlled hunts in the state open the following Monday, 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.
There are some rule changes for the 2019 season that hunters should be aware of, specifically pertaining to controlled hunts:
- A general tag or an extra tag may be used with a controlled hunt permit in both the spring and fall seasons
- Immediately after any wild turkey is killed, the turkey tag and permit, if a controlled hunt, must be validated and securely attached to the wild turkey. To validate the tag and permit, the hunter must cut out and completely remove two triangles on the border of the tag and permit, one for the month and one for the day of the kill
- The tag and permit must remain attached so long as the turkey is in transit or storage
Hunters will find most general hunting opportunity in the Panhandle, Clearwater, and Southwest and Southeast Regions, while most other areas are limited to controlled hunts.
While much of the state experienced deep snowfall in February, the winter was relatively mild until that point, meaning turkeys were not stressed for a long period of time. Add that to the fact that most of the state's turkey populations were in good shape heading into the winter, and hunters can expect good to very good turkey hunting in the spring of 2019.
Hunters are warned that many areas experience flooding during late winter and early spring, so they should double check access to their favorite hunting spots. They might also encounter lingering snowdrifts that block them from their hunting spot.
Fish and Game’s regional staff give an overview of what’s happening with turkey hunting in their regions:
Turkey season in the Panhandle is looking quite good despite the snow that accumulated in the lower elevations late winter.
The region currently has near-normal winter snowpack, but the majority of snow fell later in February and March. Turkeys were likely not stressed for a long period because of the mild early winter conditions. Things should begin to melt soon and with the ample late snowfall we should see a very nice spring green-up due to the abundant moisture.
A challenge for turkey hunters this year might be access due to poor road conditions and the potential for flooding, but there should be abundant turkey numbers. Snow may also hang on in some areas of the region potentially affecting access.
During the spring season, hunters may purchase and use up to two turkey tags; only bearded turkeys may be harvested in spring. As always, remember to respect private property, and ask first before you hunt there.
– Micah Ellstrom, Panhandle Region Wildlife Manager
Turkeys are present throughout all forested portions of the 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 the confluence with the Salmon River, the lower Salmon River drainage up to White Bird, and the Dworshak (Reservoir) area.
Good opportunities for turkey hunting are found on Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, state and federal property, private property, as well as corporate timber land. The entire region is open to general turkey hunting April 8-14 (youth only) and April 15 - May 25 for the general spring season.
Production the past five years has been at or above the long-term average. Relatively mild conditions during the bulk of the past two winters should result in good overwinter survival. Consequently, turkey numbers this hunting season should be comparable to those observed in recent years.
Late winter snows could potentially preclude access to some higher elevation areas depending on weather conditions and snowmelt between now and the opener. The Hunt Planner is a good tool for showing different federal land ownership. For information on corporate timberland, visit websites for the Potlatch Timber Corporation and the Bennett Lumber Company.
– Dave Koehler, Regional Wildlife Biologist
Upper Snake Region
The Upper Snake Region generally has small populations mainly along the Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River.
With the late arrival of winter this year and lower than normal temperatures in February and March, we would anticipate some winter mortalities within the region. With above normal snowpack in higher elevations in many parts of the region, expect to find turkeys at lower elevations later into the season.
Anticipate stable to slightly declining turkey populations in the region for spring hunting.
– Curtis Hendricks, Upper Snake Region Wildlife Manager
Turkeys fared extremely well last spring/summer with high production and survival rates resulting in flock increases across the region.
Winter conditions were above average, however, turkey numbers were extremely high this past year, and despite some winter mortality, there should still be robust turkey populations for hunters to enjoy.
During the early period of the spring season, hunters might find turkey distributions to be slightly different due to lingering snow at higher elevations.
– Zach Lockyer, Regional Wildlife Manager
The turkey outlook in the Nampa subregion of the Southwest Region is good. Winter conditions have been mild in the valley and we expect high overwinter survival in GMU’s 38 and 39.
Additionally, 100 turkeys were trapped on private land near Parma (GMU 38) and relocated to public land on the South Fork Boise River below Anderson Ranch Dam (GMU 39).
Turkeys have been faring well in the Treasure Valley for several years and numbers are up. Spring turkey hunting throughout the area should be good this spring.
– Rick Ward, Regional Wildlife Manager, Nampa Subregion
Turkey numbers are increasing throughout occupied parts of the Southwest Region. Although many areas saw deep snow this winter, it came late and stayed for a relatively short time, so did not adversely affect turkey populations in most places.
Units 22, 31, 32A and 23 all have general spring turkey hunts, as does a portion of Unit 32. In areas around Cecil D. Andrus WMA, Cambridge, Weiser and Midvale, most turkeys will be at low elevations during the early part of the spring season.
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.
– Regan Berkley, Regional Wildlife Manager, McCall Subregion
The region has low turkey densities, about 400 in Custer County and about 125 to 225 in Lemhi County. There are limited controlled hunts for these birds.
The region likely had some late winter mortality but hunting success rates should remain good. Access will not be a problem due to snow.
– Greg Painter, Salmon Region Wildlife Manager
Magic Valley Region
The region has a limited number of turkeys in Unit 54, with most residing on the west side of the unit. Turkeys are limited to controlled hunts only in the region, and normal survival is anticipated after the winter.
– Mark Fleming, Regional Wildlife Habitat Manager