It’s not too late to hunt turkeys in Utah

May 9, 2024, 9:00 AM

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 — If your family is like mine and other than the occasional lunch sandwich, only serves turkey dinner once a year for Thanksgiving — allow me to propose a new life experience with dinner table benefits. Twice a year, Utah allows you to participate in wild turkey hunting, and the spring hunting season continues through May 31. 

Turkey numbers in Utah

Two turkey subspecies call the Utah home, the Rio Grande and Merriam’s Wild Turkey.

Utah’s Upland Game Coordinator Heather Talley told KSL Outdoors Radio that, although we’re lagging a bit in some parts of northern and central Utah, statewide populations of those species have been boosted by Mother Nature. 

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“We had that really big winter of ’22 and ’23,” Talley said. “But then we had a great spring and great brood production last year with a mild winter and no winter kill. But [we] still had enough precipitation to have some really good brooding areas.” 

Hunters in the field have already reported seeing some poults, known as young turkeys, with their mother hens so expectations are high for continued population growth.


It’s estimated there are between 25,000 to 30,000 wild turkeys throughout Utah. And finding the turkeys might be the easy part. It’s luring them into hunting range that can be a bit trickier.

Places for Utah wild turkey hunting

Rio Grande turkeys are usually found at lower elevations. River bottoms scattered with cottonwood trees and areas composed of mostly oak and pinyon-juniper woodlands are some of their favorite spots. Merriam’s on the other hand, are typically found in ponderosa pine forests and higher elevations. 

In central Utah Provo Canyon, Hobble Creek and Spanish Fork Canyon are all good choices. In Southern Utah, try Zion, Panguitch Lake or Lake Dutton. Northeastern? The Division of Wildlife Resources suggests Duchesne River, Green River and Ashley Creek areas. For southern areas, consider drainages along the Book Cliffs including Nash Wash with a sizable population along the Fremont River around Hanksville.

Tactics for hunting wild turkeys

Turkeys can be tricky to call in if you’re not familiar with the times they are on the move or the chatter they use to communicate at various times of the day.

Talley says although the birds have a poor sense of smell, they have incredible eyesight so wear good camo and sit really still.

“Ten a.m. to 2 p.m. are the most common times they are harvested so you definitely want to get there early and be in place so you’re not bumping them while you’re trying to get set up,” Talley said.”

Talk turkey to me

Both the DWR and the National Wild Turkey Federation have great resources to learn how to communicate with wild turkeys or brush up on the basics before heading out.

You’ll find the five-part series,  “Turkey Hunting Basics” on the DWR’s website and the “Turkey Call Podcast” from the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The number of turkey hunters seems to be growing right along with the bird populations as more and more outdoor enthusiasts look for new challenges that ultimately take them to new discoveries in new places in our state.

You have until the end of the month to get one of the unlimited permits for the spring hunt and if successful, have a second turkey dinner with stories and memories to tell around the table.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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It’s not too late to hunt turkeys in Utah