KSL Outdoors: Talking turkey (and knowing when not to)

Nov 29, 2022, 3:00 PM
Utah's Morning News host Tim Hughes discusses how to talk turkey and other requirements you'll need...
FILE: Hunters can next vie for wild turkeys in Utah in mid December. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — Now that Thanksgiving has passed and the leftovers are out of the ‘fridge I find myself wondering why my family only throws a turkey in the oven once a year. Of course, we buy sliced turkey year-round for lunchtime sandwiches but I’m talking a 20 lb bird with all of the fixings!

It’s tasty and certainly priced right even in inflationary times. And, as an outdoors lover, how much more satisfying to both my taste buds and spirit would it be if I harvested that turkey myself!?

Fly fishermen will tell you how much more gratifying it is to tie their own fly after matching the hatch on the river and convincing a fish to take it. So would the same apply if providing a turkey dinner fresh from the field instead of the grocery store’s frozen food aisle?

To do that successfully requires the ability to “talk turkey!” More on that in a second.

History of turkey in Utah

The Utah Division of Wildlife says that until the 1950s established turkey populations hadn’t been seen in Utah in 100 years or more. Except for a failed reintroduction in the 1920s, no records exist of turkeys being in Utah, at least from the time the Europeans started exploring the state.

Now Utah boasts a thriving population of 25,000-35,000 birds thanks to the ongoing reintroduction efforts by the Division and surrounding states. This effort represents one of the most successful programs in recent times.

Talking turkey

Before considering this hunting adventure there are a few things you need to know about casual conversations with a turkey. This will increase the odds of success in either the spring or fall turkey seasons. Despite what you’ve been told about these birds being … well … dumb, they are actually one of the trickiest animals to call into an area and get close enough to harvest.

For that, we turn to the National Wild Turkey Federation for “Taking Turkey 101”. We all know the “gobble.” But do you know it’s used primarily by males and usually in the spring? There’s also the “purr”, the “putt” and the “tree call.” Using any of these at the wrong time of year or even the wrong time of day will only leave these wary birds shaking their head at the hunter on the other end of the call!

Even if you’re not considering becoming a turkey hunter in Utah in 2023, learning to “talk turkey” is a fun exercise with the kids!

Spring turkey permits in Utah

My reason for bringing this up besides Thanksgiving and already missing the leftovers in the fridge is that the application period for the spring 2023 limited-entry turkey hunt in Utah opens on December 13th and will run through 11 a.m. on December 27th. You can apply online at wildlife.utah.gov.

Tim Hughes is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News on KSL NewsRadio, which can be heard on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. He is also the host of KSL Outdoors which airs Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

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KSL Outdoors: Talking turkey (and knowing when not to)