If you want to hunt wild turkeys in Utah this spring, but you didn’t draw a limited-entry permit, no problem.
Utah’s general statewide turkey hunt is about to begin, and there’s no limit on the number of permits available for the hunt, so you won’t have a problem getting one.
You can buy a permit at www.wildlife.utah.gov. Permits are also available at DWR offices and from more than 300 hunting license agents across Utah.
Those who were 15 years of age or younger on Jan. 24 can hunt starting as early as Friday. Adult hunters can join the youngsters starting April 29.
Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said turkeys are doing well, especially in southwestern and south-central Utah.
Robinson said the number of turkeys across Utah should be similar to — or a little higher — than last year. He credits the optimistic outlook to a warm, wet spring in 2012 and the ability turkeys have to escape inversions.
“Wet, warm weather in the spring gives hens more nesting cover,” he said. “It also provides more forbs and insects for newly hatched chicks to eat.”
Snowfall in higher elevations was lighter than normal this past winter. When inversions set in along the Wasatch Front, many turkey chicks and their parents escaped the snow and cold by moving to open, south-facing slopes at higher elevations.
Robinson said biologists also moved turkeys from areas in Utah where the turkeys were overabundant to areas that have good habitat. They also brought turkeys in from South Dakota and released them in eastern Utah this past winter.
To be successful, Robinson said hunters need to locate the birds before the hunt begins.
“Look for birds and signs that turkeys have been in the area,” he said. “Listen for gobbles. Look for areas where turkeys have been roosting in trees.”
If you’re moving through the woods, and you spot something that looks like a turkey, it might actually be someone’s decoy.
“Make sure it’s a turkey before you pull the trigger,” Robinson said.
Only turkeys with beards may be taken. All tom turkeys have beards, and about 10 percent of hens have them.
You can buy a permit anytime between now and when the season ends on May 31. If you buy a permit online, it will take about five to 10 days for it to arrive in the mail.