By Elena Reynolds | Above: Jamie Barton with a Colorado Tom
Throughout the west, an abundance of turkey hunting opportunities are available. Don’t miss your chance to pursue birds in the mountains and foothills of the Rockies this spring. There’s nothing quite like hearing the call of a gobbler echo through the mountains on a backcountry hunt.
Whether you already live in the Rockies, and you’re looking to hunt turkeys this year, or you are coming out for a grand adventure in pursuit of a new turkey species to check off your list, here is a quick guide to help you plan and prepare for a western spring turkey hunt. Below, you’ll find a link to each state’s regulations to learn more about turkey hunting in these areas…
Erin Crider with a Wyoming Turkey
The application deadline to apply for a limited turkey license in Colorado was on February 1st. But even if you missed the deadline for a limited license, the majority of units have over the counter (OTC) opportunities.
Colorado offers a lengthy spring season starting April 9th and running through May 31st. For residents, a spring turkey license is $31.41, and $160.67 for non-residents. The OTC license is valid for one bearded turkey. If you were successful in the limited license draw, you can also purchase an OTC license, giving you a chance to harvest two spring birds.
Colorado holds the opportunity to hunt two wild turkey subspecies. In the mountains you’ll find the Merriam's turkey, and the Rio Grande turkey down in the plains.
The Cowboy State offers plenty of general license turkey hunting opportunities with resident tags costing only $16, and $74 for non-residents. Only one general license is allowed per hunter and is valid for one bearded turkey.
Hunters are given the opportunity to harvest up to 3 wild turkeys in a season if they are successful in the Type 1 or 3 limited license draws. The state is divided into 5 turkey hunt areas. For Area 3, the season starts on April 1st and goes all the way through May 31st. The rest of the hunt areas’ seasons don’t start until April 20th and will end on May 31st.
With the wild turkey population on the rise in Wyoming, hunting in this state is definitely worth the trip!
Many states separate their turkey and upland game regulations, however in Montana, they are combined. For Montana residents, it is required to hold an Upland Game Bird License ($7.50) in order to purchase a turkey license ($6.50). For nonresidents a turkey license is $115 without an upland game bird license, and $57.50 with an upland game bird license ($110). If you plan to hunt upland birds in Montana anyway, it makes sense to purchase both.
The spring turkey season begins April 15th and runs through May 31st in Montana. Opportunities to harvest multiple turkeys in a season are available through a general season tag valid for the entire state, a regional season tag valid for specific hunt areas, and limited licenses in specific areas.
Like Montana, Utah’s turkey hunting regulations are combined with the upland bird hunting. The spring season is split for the limited-entry licenses and general season licenses. The season for limited-entry hunts is April 9th through the 28th. The general season hunt is from May 2nd through the 31st.
For Utah residents, a spring turkey license is $35 and is valid for one bearded turkey. A nonresident turkey license is $115. There is only one permit per hunter available in the spring, and up to three permits per hunter in the fall. The general season permit is valid statewide.
With a growing turkey population, and extensive public land access, Utah can hold great opportunities for chasing spring gobblers.
Idaho offers both general season and controlled hunts for the spring and fall turkey seasons. Each turkey hunter is allowed to harvest up to two bearded turkeys in one season with a permit for each bird.
Only a certain number of game management units in Idaho are open to turkey hunting with the season starting April 15th and running through May 25th. Merriam’s, Rio Grande, and even a handful of Eastern wild turkeys reside in this state, along with the occasional hybrid species.
For a nonresident, a turkey license is only $88 and includes the opportunity for two bearded birds. For an Idaho resident the first turkey permit is $22.75 and $12.25 for the second.
Like most of the other Mountain West states, New Mexico offers both OTC and limited draw hunts for turkeys. The OTC season opens April 15th and runs through May 10th. These over-the-counter licenses are valid in most areas throughout the state.
Nonresident hunters will be required to purchase a game hunting license for $65 and their spring turkey license at $100. If you apply in the New Mexico big game draw, you’ll have already purchased the game hunting license anyway. Those same fees for New Mexico residents are $15 and $25 respectively.
With the opportunity to take up to two toms each spring and plenty of public land to explore, New Mexico is certainly a worthwhile destination for spring turkey hunters to consider.
Enjoy Your Spring Turkey Hunts!
Turkey hunting is growing in popularity in the western states, and for good reason! You can’t beat the beauty of spring in the mountains as the snow starts to melt, the rivers begin to rise, and the turkeys begin to gobble. So, get ready for your next adventure and challenge yourself with an exhilarating turkey hunt in the west!
Gear up for the adventure! Check out the great selection of gear, now in-stock in the Caribou Gear Store. You’ll find tents, sleeping bags, stove systems, backcountry meals, boots, knives and more.
A resident of Colorado's Yampa Valley, Elena is a hunter, angler, and founder of Rocky Mountain Sportswomen, an organization that strives to create a network of local women who are passionate about the outdoors and conservation through hunting and fishing.