Pineview, Utah –
It’s your favorite hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, and riding intern, Evan. Spring is in full swing here in Northern Utah and I’d like to talk about one of my favorite springtime activities, turkey hunting.
For me, nothing quite symbolizes spring like the sound of a mature tom gobbling in the oak thicket. If you have never experienced this sound in the wild, it is a magical and exciting thing. This hunt is the first opportunity of the year to put some miles on my hiking boots and experience the rebirth of the mountains, from a cold grey place to a green oasis of life and sounds.
I was lucky enough to draw the early turkey hunt which ran from April 13th– April 25th. I drew the northern unit and planned to hunt near the south end of the unit. I chose this unit because, it’s close to home and there are numerous access points into national forest and public land. I also chose to hunt with my bow and any turkey hunter will tell you this no easy feat, but hunting is not about making a kill, it’s about challenging yourself, spending time with family or sharing an adventure with your friends.
As my luck would have it, this hunt coincided with my final college semester, so naturally I was scrambling to finish all my projects and still save a few days to hunt. On the first Thursday of the hunt I took my final college exam and planned to hunt the evening with my dad.
We got to the mountain around 4 pm and hiked the 2 miles into a spot I had seen turkey in earlier in the year. As we made our way into a small valley I spotted a hen on the trail. She noticed me at the same timed and moved quietly into the maples. We decided this was as good a place as any to set up. So we threw out a couple decoys and started to call. We heard a couple gobbles but the old buzzards would not come in. As the afternoon turned to evening the birds moved off and my dad and I were left wondering what had gone wrong. It was too late to follow the birds deeper into the mountains so we decided to call it a day and get back home in time for dinner.
After we located where the birds had been and looked at all the sign, we grabbed our packs and slowly started to hike out, stopping every hundred yards or so to call. About halfway out and about the time I was thinking there was no way we would see another bird that day, we heard a hen yelp. Quickly we both hit the ground and I put an arrow on my string just in case she had a boyfriend with her. We began to call and a few minutes later I saw three birds pop out of the scrub oak and head straight for us. Right then I realized that I was completely in the open and that I would have to be perfectly still if I hope to get a shot.
As the birds got closer, I could clearly see the tom following the hens right to me. As they got within 15 yards, the tom suddenly began to get nervous when he saw there was no hen standing in the trail. He moved above me and as he stepped behind the sage brush I drew my bow. He came back to the top of the ridge and turned to stretch his wings. In that same moment I settled my pin on his wing and let the string go. The arrow flew true and he went down quickly. As I stood there with the melancholy feeling only a hunter can understand, I thought about how great it was to share this experience with my father and to complete a challenge where the odds were stacked against me. I joined my dad in admiring our trophy and took the time take a few pictures.
In Northern Utah our turkey hunt runs from mid-April through the end of May. It’s broken down into 3 hunts: an early limited entry hunt, a youth hunt and over the counter statewide hunt. Turkey hunting in Utah is a fairly new activity. It is a great reason to get out or introduce a new person to hunting. Check out our tips on responsible hunting and remember to Ride On designated trails and always Tread Lightly!