Spring Turkey Hunting Forecast General Overview April Wild turkey
Shared by: bobbybrull
2007 Spring Turkey Hunting Forecast General Overview April 6, 2007 - Wild turkey hunting is the fastest growing form of hunting in the U.S., and Oregon is no exception. Turkey hunting has grown ten-fold in the state since the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife implemented a statewide spring season in 1987. This year’s general season opens April 15 and runs through May 31 statewide. To promote this fast-growing sport, ODFW recently produced a “Wild Turkey Hunting in Oregon” brochure with information on turkey biology, identifying turkeys, hunting tips, and other useful information. Pick a brochure up at your nearest ODFW office (call first to confirm it is in stock) or visit the web site below to download a PDF copy: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/upland_bird/species/WildTurkeyBrochure.pdf Unlike most of Oregon’s game species, turkeys are not native to Oregon. They were first successfully introduced in 1961. The two turkey subspecies present in Oregon are Merriam’s and Rio Grande. Merriam’s were transported from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska and Montana and most have since hybridized with Rio Grande turkeys, which are native to the southern Great Plains and northeastern Mexico. Rio Grande turkeys and the hybrids have proven highly adaptable to a wide range of habitat types. The Roseburg area is known to have the best turkey hunting in Oregon. However, according to Dave Budeau, ODFW’s upland game bird biologist, turkey hunters’ success there depends on access to private land. Last year, 1,240 hunters harvested 836 turkeys in the Melrose unit around Roseburg, the record for the state. But Douglas County turkey hunting is 90 percent on private land, and the remaining 10 percent of public Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land tends to get very crowded with turkey hunters. Roseburg district biologist Tod Lum offers simple advice for overcoming this challenge—go east. “The department sends the many birds we trap to Klamath, Prineville, Burns, John Day, Baker and La Grande. These areas have large amounts of public land where hunters have access to the turkeys.” For hunters patiently awaiting their annual fall hunting rituals, Lum has another suggestion: “Treat your turkey hunt like an annual elk camp—go to a large public area for a week and seek out turkeys that have established in the area.” Budeau encouraged public lands hunters to pick up a BLM or forest service map and look for the type of habitat turkeys prefer—rolling hills and oak woodlands interspersed with meadows or pastures. “But keep in mind turkeys are adaptable and can even head into other habitats like mixed conifer forests, though they tend to avoid dense brush,” he added. Turkey tags cost $18 for residents and $64 for non-residents. Hunters are allowed two tags statewide and a bonus tag may be used to take one legal turkey in certain western Oregon counties; see page 15 of 2006-2007 Upland Game Bird Regulations for details. The daily bag limit is one male turkey with a visible beard and season limit is two legal turkeys (three with the bonus tag). Tags can be purchased throughout the season, but you must carry a valid tag when hunting. See below for a breakdown of hunting opportunities by region. Northwest Region The Willamette Unit saw the 10th largest number of turkeys harvested last year (137), but the unit is all private lands. It is up to hunters to obtain permission from a private landowner. Portions of the Santiam and McKenzie units could also be productive; stay on the east side of the southern Willamette Valley at lower elevations in the Willamette National Forest. High Desert Region The White River Unit encompassing The Dalles and ODFW’s White River Wildlife Area was the third most successful unit last year, with 1,555 hunters taking 391 birds. District Biologist Keith Kohl from ODFW’s The Dalles field office recommends hunters start at the northern boundary of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and hunt north. “Hunt about three miles on either side of the eastern boundary of the Mt. Hood National Forest, on the line running from the Warm Springs reservation to the Columbia River,” Kohl said. “The majority of turkeys will be in that band.” The area is a combination of forest service land, ODFW-managed land, and private land; remember to get permission for the private land. Northeast Region Baker County Turkeys are in great shape in Baker County, particularly in the Keating and Pine Creek units. Look for turkeys anywhere in the lower elevations in the transition between agriculture and forestland. There is public land access to BLM and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest; remember to ask for permission on private properties. Grant County Turkeys are widely distributed throughout the district. Get a map and understand property boundaries as many of the turkeys are on private property and permission is needed to hunt. The John Day Valley is primarily private land but hunters can access public land along the north and middle fork of the John Day River in the Malheur and Umatilla national forests and at the ODFW-managed Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area. Umatilla County Turkeys inhabit Umatilla County in good numbers all along the front face of the Blue Mountains and they are expanding into new areas over time. These areas are dominated by private land and access is sometimes difficult. However, turkeys do inhabit some public land areas as follows: central Ukiah Unit on national forest land, southern Ukiah Unit on Pearson Ridge and surrounding drainages, Umatilla National Forest lands in the eastern portion of the Heppner Unit, Umatilla National Forest lands on ridges below Black Mountain in the Mt. Emily Unit. As a result of warm weather this March, conditions are milder higher on the hill; this unique condition will distribute turkeys to public lands in greater numbers. Union County Turkey numbers are stable and the mild winter should make 2007 a good year for hunters. Walking old logging roads in the early morning and watching for turkey sign is an effective scouting method. The north end of the Grande Ronde Valley is a productive area for spring turkey hunting. For hunters that need to access public lands, try north of the town Elgin and the Umatilla National Forest and open Forest Capital Partners lands, which are well-marked. Remember vehicle use is restricted or prohibited on many public and private lands. Wallowa District Wallowa’s turkey outlook is good with much carryover of birds from the past winter, continuing a trend of stable to slightly increasing numbers. Units where turkey can be found are Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, and Minam. Most birds can be found on public lands or private land open to public hunting such as Forest Capital Partners timberlands. Birds are expected to be widely scattered throughout forested areas so hunters should put in some time hiking, listening, and looking for signs of turkey activity. Road access is expected to be better than normal, as warm temperatures melted snow and opened roads early this year. Hunters are reminded that cooperative travel management areas are in effect in the Wenaha and Sled Springs units. Southwest Region Curry and Josephine Counties Spring turkey season will be average this year. Turkey numbers remain high. Pre-season scouting with the use of locator calls will help in locating flocks and roosting areas. Douglas County Last years chick/poult counts showed above average production so hunters can expect the spring gobbler hunt this year to be above average. Over the last 10 years, all indicators point to a healthy and increasing turkey population in Douglas County. While the hens are off nesting the first part of the season, most gobblers are found on private land, sometimes adjacent to public lands. In general, most turkeys are found on or adjacent to low-mid elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat. Finding good turkey hunting around here requires knocking on doors ahead of time and getting permission from landowners. Hunters should be aware that there are a high percentage of lands tied up by guides who pay landowners for hunting rights. Therefore, hunters will have a difficult time gaining access without paying a fee. Jackson County Spring turkey season will be average this year. Turkey numbers remain high. Pre-season scouting with the use of locator calls will help in locating flocks and roosting areas. Good turkey numbers can be found on low-lying public lands below 3,500 feet in elevation; however, most turkeys are located on private lands. Hunters are advised to make friendly contact with landowners to secure good hunting locations. ODFW does not maintain a list of landowners that allow trespass for hunting.