Turkey Hunting in Utah

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  • C
  • 25,000-35,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Rio Grandes, Merriam's plus hybrids

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 249,765

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (see regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (see regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

The Utah wild turkey population continues to grow and expand, and that's good news for the birds and turkey hunters.

Recent kill data as of this update (early 2022), is provided by the National Wild Turkey Federation, and lists a 2020 spring harvest of 3,671 turkeys. Some 2,955 of those were with over-the-counter licensing purchases, and an additional 716 the result of the limited-entry option.

All in all, Utah is a solid choice for the resident turkey hunter, who likely hunts waterfowl and other species, even though chasing gobblers is new to many.

Access to public land is excellent, both limited and unlimited licenses are offered in every region.

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" Turkey Hunting Nation grade seems about right. 

Some History and Where to Go

Since the 1920s, Rio, Merriam's and even Eastern wild turkeys have been introduced into Utah with varying degrees of success. 

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, insiders say.

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.

Turkey Tag Intel

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.  

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 saw 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 ...

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in Utah ©GizmoPhoto-Shutterstock

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