One of the most memorable experiences in hunting is that moment when you hear the call of a game animal in the wild for the first time.
Perhaps the most beautiful calls are those of a rutting bull elk and a loon. Both will give chills to one who has what may be described as a nature awareness. The call of a loon is melodic and almost wistful, and the bugle of a bull screams a powerful challenge to other bulls that might be competing for his harem.
Then there is the unmistakable gobble of a wild turkey. In comparison to the song of a loon, a turkey’s gobble is anything but melodious. Nevertheless, to a turkey hunter, it is a thing of beauty. The ability to imitate that gobble, along with the many other sounds turkeys make when communicating with each other, is essential to hunters who want to put a wild turkey on the table.
While most hunters today use some type of call, my grandmother didn’t need one. While growing up in the rural communities of eastern Utah, she learned how to imitate a gobbler using only her voice. Unfortunately, that is one talent she didn’t pass on to her grandkids.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to hunt wild turkeys, it is something you should consider putting on your bucket list. The meat from a wild turkey has a rich flavor, much more so than domestic birds, and you can’t get much more organic than wild game.
Moreover, hunting wild turkeys will test the stealth ability of the most experienced hunter. Turkeys are aware of their surroundings and will notice the slightest movement. They will blow out with the slightest provocation, so full camouflage and the ability to sit still are a must.
What you need in your camouflage is the ability to break up the outline of your body and cover your face. The details of the fabric’s design aren’t as important as its ability to cover your silhouette.
Nevada doesn’t have as many turkeys as some of our neighboring states, but there is opportunity to be had. The state is home to the Merriam’s and Rio Grande varieties. Tag numbers are small in the south, but there is some excellent hunting available in Moapa Valley. Additional opportunities are available farther north.
While most of Nevada’s turkey tags are distributed through a drawing, which already has taken place for the 2020 season, there are open quota areas in Paradise Valley and Lyon County. You just need to work with local landowners to complete an application for tags in those areas. The season opens March 28.
Arizona boasts three subspecies of wild turkeys. They include Merriam’s, Gould’s and Rio Grandes. The state issues its turkey tags through a drawing process that takes place in the fall. The deadline for the spring 2020 turkey hunt was in October. Usually there are a small number of leftover tags, but they sell out quickly.
Utah also awards turkey tags through a drawing process, but the state has tags available over the counter, too. They can be purchased online, at division of wildlife offices or through license vendors. The 2020 general season opens May 4 and closes May 31.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the department. Any opinions are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.