“The turkey outlook for the 2021 spring season is looking pretty positive,” said Jeff Knetter, statewide upland game bird manager. “Turkey populations, in general, were pretty healthy heading into this winter. This winter was relatively mild throughout the state, and we’ve had no major events that give us cause for concern regarding turkey survival. Last year was good for turkey hunters, and there’s no reason to believe it would be different in 2021.”
Knetter noted that harvest was up in 2020, and so were the numbers of turkey hunters in general season hunts, which is something that wildlife managers would continue to monitor going forward.
“I believe that spike in the number of turkey hunters in the spring of 2020 may have been due to the pandemic, but we will keep an eye on this to see if that increased participation continues and has the potential to reduce turkey populations,” Knetter said.
Youth turkey season
Youth turkey season opens April 8, and the general turkey season and many controlled hunts open 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.
Hunters will find most general hunting opportunity in the Panhandle, Clearwater, Southwest, and Southeast regions, while most other areas are limited to controlled hunts. In each of the regions with general hunting opportunity, turkey populations are faring well, and the hunting outlook is as good, or better, than recent years.
Fish and Game’s regional staff gave an overview of what’s happening with turkey hunting in their regions:
Overall, the spring turkey hunting outlook is good for the Clearwater Region. Relatively mild conditions during the majority of the past three winters should result in good overwinter survival. Although it’s too early to tell at this time, the past few years have had at or above average production. Consequently, turkey numbers this hunting season should be comparable to recent years.
Mild winter conditions were prevalent across the region this year. This should lead to easier access to higher-elevation portions of the region, but as always, access is dependent on weather and snowmelt between now and the opener. Lower elevations are already snow free and showing signs of spring green up.
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 to 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 south of Lewiston, state and federal property, private property, as well as corporate timber land. The entire region is open to general turkey hunting.
A great place to start is Fish and Game’s Hunt Planner, 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, as well as Fish and Game’s Large Tracts Access Program, which provides public access to thousands of acres of private timber land.
Information from Jana Livingston, Clearwater Region Wildlife Biologist. Photo by Idaho Fish & Game