Category Archives: Turkey Hunting

Reservations Accepted at 18 Colorado Public Hunting Areas

Waterfowl hunter

There are few things worse than waking up early to be the first hunter at your favorite hunting spot and finding that someone has beat you to it. One way to avoid that frustration is to use Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s new hunting reservation system (hint: the government loves acronyms, so you may see the system identified as HRS). The new hunting reservation system allows licensed hunters to make reservations at 18 different locations around the state. This system is used primarily for waterfowl and small game hunting reservations, but several of the properties will offer turkey hunting reservations as well. 

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Field Notes of A Rookie Sportsperson: Evaluating the Harvest

Hunting blind and turkey decoys.

At an early meeting of the 2019 Rookie Sportsperson Program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Frank McGee told us we should each have our own individual response to the question: Why do you hunt?

“Because I guarantee you,” McGee said, “at some point, you will be asked that question.”

After a couple turkey hunting trips with our Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) mentor, District Wildlife Manager Logan Wilkins, and with my daughter, Natalie, I feel like I’m a little bit closer to knowing my answer.

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Field Notes of a Rookie Sportsperson: Excitement Builds for our First-ever Turkey Hunt

Natalie examines turkey feathers
Natalie Duncan, 14, examines turkey feathers during a Turkey Hunting 101 class that was part of CPW’s Rookie Sportsman Program which introduces newcomers and novices to Colorado’s outdoor opportunities including hunting, fishing, camping and hiking. Natalie is taking the class with her father, Travis Duncan, who is a CPW public information officer.

Calling a turkey is much different than being called a turkey. In fact, it’s much harder to call a turkey than I ever dreamed because the birds are really smart.

Thanks to what we learned about the wild, upland ground bird in our Rookie Sportsperson Program (RSP) classes in April, my daughter, Natalie, and I have a much deeper appreciation for wild turkey and are more excited than ever as we prepare to go seek them out on what will be our first-ever turkey hunt.

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2019 COLORADO OUTDOORS PREFERENCE POINT ISSUE

If you’re a Colorado big-game hunter, now’s the time to prepare for the 2019 hunting seasons.

Colorado Outdoors, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s conservation magazine, is a valuable planning resource for hunters. The Jan/Feb issue features big-game preference points for deer, elk, pronghorn, bear, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose.

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Hunting Colorado’s Mountain Merriam’s (& The Tenth Legion)

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The author displays a Merriam’s turkey.

The best-known book of turkey hunting’s poet laureate, Colonel (retired) Tom Kelly, is Tenth Legion. The title comes from the Tenth Legion of the Roman Army, a matchless military force that stood fast against barbarian hordes for centuries. Over generations, the soldiers forming the Tenth Legion’s ranks became a cult, a breed apart, and their feats have become a touchstone for unstinting commitment, writes Jim Casada in his American Hunter article, “Reflections of a Marvelous Madness.” Such is the commitment and dedication I see demonstrated by those like my friend, Rick Hooley, and conservation officer, Rob Brazie. Read more

Last-Minute Spring Turkey Tips

Tip 1: It’s not too late to get a spring turkey license.

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View the Spring Over-The-Counter (Unlimited) Licenses & Huntable GMUs Map on page 5 of the 2018 Colorado Turkey brochure.

TurkeyBrochureIf you are a last minute planner or you did not draw a turkey license during the limited draw, you still have an option to hunt. Spring OTC licenses are unlimited in number so anyone with a hunter education card can purchase a license to hunt turkeys this spring. 2018 OTC licenses are valid from April 14 through May 27 and provide access to some of the best turkey hunting in the state. While preplanning and a little scouting always produce the best hunts, a little virtual scouting and a long spring season can also be a recipe for success. Use the 2018 Spring Turkey OTC maps and the Colorado Hunting Atlas to zero in on a great hunting location. Read more

Turkey Biology and Hunting Tactics

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Many people mock the tale of Benjamin Franklin suggesting the wild turkey as a symbol for our young nation. Those people have obviously never hunted for turkey. If they had, ol’ Ben wouldn’t seem so far off base. Photo by © Vic Schendel/CPW

During the last 30-plus years, I have hunted in four states and have harvested one or two turkeys each year (I struck out one year). Having spent my professional career as a biologist, I’ve always combined my hunting experience with biology. Most of my hunts have been for the Rio Grande subspecies in river bottom habitat, but I also have hunted the Merriam’s subspecies in three states.

There are key turkey biological periods during a typical spring hunting season, and hunting tactics need to match these specific periods. Learning to recognize these distinct periods can be the secret to harvesting the long beards in any area.
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Turkey Hunter Testimonials

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Alexa with her first turkey. Photo by Derek Vaughan

Hunter: Alexa Vaughan

The night before my first turkey hunt I was nervous and excited. That day I had just completed my hunter safety course and went and got my turkey license. I was eleven years old and it was my first hunt ever. I had practiced shooting a few days before and felt confident with my gun, a single-shot, 20-gauge shotgun. My Dad and I went out opening morning April 8th outside Durango in GMU 75. We settled into our blind. My dad was calling in the turkeys and I was holding my gun. We had only been waiting 20 minutes when a lone tom came strutting in. I slowly raised my gun. My hands were shaking so bad that I bumped the barrel on the blind opening. The sudden sound scared the Tom and he began to turn away. I took a deep breath and placed my sight on his head. An ear-splitting boom filled the morning air. We collected the turkey and marked my tag. It was a good day and the meat he provided we ate on Easter.


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Tom Foolery: Hunting Mountain Merriam’s

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The author displays a San Juan turkey.

I’ve hunted Merriam’s turkeys on public lands in southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains for seven years running now with Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Habitat Watch Volunteer (HWV) Rick Hooley. Rick is a HWV for the San Juan National Forest, and there’s likely few outdoorsmen with his breadth and depth of hunting-angling experience in this part of the state.

We hunt an over-the-counter (OTC) unit, and the most recent Colorado Parks & Wildlife turkey harvest data (for 2015) shows a 30 perecent success rates for OTC licenses holders versus 50 percent for limited license holders. Realtree contributor, Steve Hickoff, says: “The [Colorado] Merriam’s population lives in some rugged country; their nomadic traits can really spread them out and test your patience. You can go for hours, even days, and not hear a gobble.”

But as American Hunter contributor, Sgt. Michael Marek (82nd Airborne Division), wrote: “If it was easy, everyone would do it … hunting is difficult, and that’s what makes being a hunter so great. You truly become a cut above the rest.” Mountain Merriam’s turkey hunting is both physically and mentally challenging, and—in my admittedly biased opinion—truly a cut above the rest. Read more

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