Thanksgiving may be just a few weeks in the rear-view mirror, but for hunters who pursue the iconic bird that represents that holiday, it’s already time to think about next year’s turkey hunt.
Those who want to get a jump on the Utah’s spring turkey hunting season can apply this month for limited-entry permits, which allow a relatively small number of hunters to head into the field in April, ahead of the general turkey season in May. Depending on the weather, the limited-entry hunt can be the best chance a hunter has of bagging that gobbler.
While wild turkeys aren’t known to have existed in Utah during the early years of white settlement, there is evidence that they coexisted with Native Americans in the state. Utah’s current turkey populations originated in the 1950s, when they were transplanted into Southern Utah.
The birds thrived in the southern part of the state, and in more recent years, wildlife officials have introduced turkeys into other areas, including the Top of Utah. Turkeys are now thriving statewide, and their Utah population numbers in the tens of thousands.
Applications for the limited-entry hunt must be received by 11 p.m. Dec. 28 to be entered into the draw for permits. The best method is to apply online at www.wildlife.utah.gov.
While the odds of drawing a limited-entry turkey permit are much higher than, say, a once-in-a-lifetime moose permit, it’s still likely that many applicants won’t hear their names called. For those who don’t win the drawing, permits for the general statewide turkey hunt go on sale Feb. 23.
The limited-entry hunt will be held in April. The 2,500 total permits issued will be dispersed among each of the Division of Wildlife Resources’ five regions.
More information about Utah’s 2012 turkey hunting season is available in the 2011-12 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook. The free guidebook is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks, from DWR offices, and from hunting and fishing license agents across Utah.