Turkey Hunting in Utah

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  • C
  • 23,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Rio Grandes, Merriam's plus Hybrids

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 207,331

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $61

    License and "general season" turkey permit. Other permit application fees apply. See website.

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $100

    License and "general season" turkey permit. Other permit application fees apply. See website.

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

As of this writing and according to the National Wild Turkey Federation, Utah has an estimated 10,350 Rio Grande turkeys, some 7,590 Merriam's and hybrids of the two subspecies totaling 5,060. 

Good news is the wild turkey population estimate is up 3,000 from last year.

All in all, Utah is a solid choice for the resident turkey hunter, who likely hunts waterfowl and other species. Turkey populations are stable or increasing across much of the state, even though the hunt is new to many.

Access to public land is excellent, both limited and unlimited licenses are offered in every region, and success rates routinely average more than 30 percent.

Non-residents must consider the cost of travel and the license expense (you only get one turkey in Utah), but even so, areas of the state do offer pretty good odds, and room to roam on public ground.

Added all together, when it comes to a Western turkey destination, Utah's not a bad option. The satisfactory "C" grade seems about right. 

Since the 1920s, Rio, Merriam's and even Eastern wild turkeys have been introduced into Utah with varying degrees of success. (Though again, the NWTF lists just Rios and Merriam's in the state, plus the hybrids.)

The earliest transplants were done by interested sportsmen and landowners who wanted to see turkeys thrive in the Beehive State.

Since that time, the management efforts have primarily focused on the Merriam’s and Rio subspecies, and transplanting efforts over the years have not only been an effective management practice but also are still an active part of Utah’s overall turkey-management plan.

One area where turkey numbers have historically decreased has been in the San Juan region below Interstate 70. Other locations in the state have seen an increase in turkey sightings.

Turkey hunting in Utah is broken up into five regions (Northern, Central, Northeastern, Southeastern and Southern), and without question, the best opportunities are found in the two southern regions, says NWTF regional biologist Stan Baker.

Areas around Cedar City, the Boulder Mountains, Enterprise and Pine Valley are good places to start.

Each of these areas offers excellent public access, and all are good options for those with an unlimited tag.

Didn't draw on the first try? Don't give up. 

After the limited-entry hunt is over, the general statewide turkey hunt begins in May.

General hunt permits aren't limited in number, so that's good news all the way around.

Full disclosure: I've duck hunted Utah's Great Salt Lake, and have seen November turkey flocks on my return to camp. The sight made my turkey hunter's heart kickstart into overdrive. 

Some day I'll get back there again for the greatest gamebird on the planet . . .

Turkey Hunting in Utah ©GizmoPhoto-Shutterstock

Fun Fact: Utah has a unique and simple license system that offers both limited and general unlimited hunting opportunities within the same regions (check early application dates). Basically, hunters with a limited license have the opportunity to hunt fresh birds at the beginning of every season based on varying season dates, which can make a significant difference in hunter success.  

– Steve Hickoff

Utah Turkey Hunting Regulations 

Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting.