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Talking Turkey about Turkey Hunting

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Matt's tips on turkeys On the Game Trail

The early morning chirping from songbirds in love hit me pretty hard the other day; spring is definitely here. By the time this article goes to print we should be seeing the osprey on our rivers and lakes showing off their unmatched fishing skills.

I think most people are trying to shake off a little cabin fever and are excited about getting back to those warmer weather activities they love. Just this past sunny weekend I checked over 30 anglers in one day, and most of them had smiles from ear to ear.  I thought these were folks just happy to see their local game warden but it turns out they were extremely happy to dust off the old pole and hit the water. Fishing has been fair to middling for those spring-run Kamloops on the Clark Fork River. I have seen some really nice fish and heard of a few more being landed so get out there when you get a chance.

If fishing is just not your thing don’t forget we have Spring Turkey hunts starting on April 15. Turkey hunting can be a hoot, especially when you are including the kids. What a great way to get that new hunter hooked on hunting, the North American model of wildlife conservation, and being outdoors. If you have a child that’s interested in hunting and has completed Hunter Education, please spend the time to get out on a hunt. If you don’t I might just come steal your kid for the day! I have another five years before I can get my oldest daughter lined up on her first turkey and I just can’t wait!  If you do have a child who is interested and you don’t have the time or know how, please don’t hesitate to give me a ring. We’ll get your kiddo out for a turkey hunt!

Here are few tips to remember before you head out turkey hunting, they’re simple but it’s always good to review. Make sure you identify your target before you pull the trigger; it’s one of the firearms ten commandments! When turkey hunting, most hunters are calling and have decoys so please make be aware of other hunters in the area and make sure they know where you are as well. Protect your back by leaning up against a tree, or rock and of course don’t wear red, white, or blue. Please respect private land; trespassing is one of the more common violation calls during turkey season. Most landowners would love to have a few turkeys harvested from their property, but be sure to do it the right way and ask permission first.

Big game hunting regulations should be going to the printer here shortly if they haven’t already, which means they will be at the license vendors by mid-April. This time every year I receive some calls inquiring “Why the hell aren’t the regulations out yet?” We try to really make people mad, it’s part of our program. We have a committee that sits around and thinks of ways we can make the hunting and fishing public of Idaho really mad, and not printing the regulations until April is one of their devious plots. Come on! The reason they print when they do is we have to collect data from the prior year’s hunting season which includes your mandatory harvest report, and check station data. That data needs to be analyzed along with late winter aerial population surveys. Once the data is in, recommendations are made and the public opinion process is started with online surveys and public meetings. Once the public weighs in on the proposed changes (if there are any) the percentage of support and the proposal goes in front of the IDFG commission for approval in late March. So there you have it folks, it’s not some conspiracy, it’s just the way the cogs in the wheel fit together.

We had some significant changes proposed for the next two hunting years and it spurred some interest from sportsmen with online surveys and at the public meetings. We probably had one of the larger attendance records for the big game meeting in Sandpoint since I can remember. I am proud to be an officer here in Sandpoint and Clark Fork, you guys are a dedicated, organized bunch of sportsmen who are truly concerned about hunting and conservation. 

We had over 500 people attend at least one of the four public meetings in the Panhandle this year which was a direct result of the major changes proposed for elk season. As most of you know, cow elk season is NOT part of the general hunt anymore, meaning you have to put in for a controlled hunt in order to kill a cow. Overall, the average was 64 percent in favor of eliminating hunting of antlers elk under a general hunt. However, there was a serious difference in opinion among the different areas of the Panhandle. For example, the folks in the Silver Valley stated that our herds were healthy enough to support a general cow elk season, and only 51 percent of them supported eliminating the cow season. On the other hand, 71 percent of the people at the Sandpoint meeting were in favor of eliminating general cow season. Sandpoint had the highest approval for this than any other meeting, including St. Maries, Coeur d’Alene, and the Silver Valley. It’s interesting how opinions differ so greatly over a relatively small area. 

Be sure to grab a copy of the new regulations and check out the changes. If you have questions please give us a call.

Just a quick reminder to bear-proof your home. If have chickens, leave your garbage in your pickup truck or on the porch, and keep your bird feeders out all summer you will have a bear visiting you this year. Please try to remedy those problems and the bear will go away.

Leave No Child Inside... bring them turkey hunting!


Photo by Benjamin Earwicker www.garrisonphoto.org/sxc

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Author info

Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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hunting, turkeys, The Game Trail, turkey hunting

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