CHEYENNE – Turkey hunting is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in Wyoming, and many hunters now consider the forays for turkeys each spring and fall to be as important as their annual quests for big game.
The Thanksgiving season will undoubtedly find many hunters afield in quest for the main component of their thanksgiving dinner. But, even though many hunters have been accustomed to their bi-annual turkey hunts those events were not always possible in Wyoming.
Before the 1930’s, Wyoming did not have wild turkeys. Recognizing that Wyoming had some likely turkey habitat, the Game and Fish worked out a plan to make that happen. Game and Fish trapped some sage grouse, which Wyoming had in abundance, and traded them to New Mexico for 15 wild turkeys. These turkeys were released in the Laramie Peak area and their dramatic increase in population is one of Wyoming’s wildlife management success stories. In a little over a decade the turkeys flourished in the area to where the population exceeded 1,000 birds.
In 1951 and 1952 a total of 33 turkeys were transplanted from the Laramie Peak flock to the Black Hills. Another 15 were obtained from New Mexico and the birds were on their way. Just four years later, the flock had grown sufficiently to where the first Black Hills hunting season was held. Since that time turkeys have been transplanted in a number of areas and provide hunting opportunities.
Turkey season is now open in all hunt areas and all have general license hunting. Hunters can purchase general licenses over the counter and also on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. Hunters are advised that Area 1 in the Black Hills will close Nov. 30. All other hunt areas will stay open until Dec. 31. Complete turkey hunting information including season dates and a map of the different hunt areas can be found on pp. 19-21 of the Upland Bird Regulations. Turkey licenses are $16 resident and $72 nonresident.