Springtime in the high country of Arizona brings a unique opportunity of hearing wild turkeys in the woods.
The male bird, commonly called a gobbler or “old longbeard,” is very active at this time of year and his call resonates from ridgelines and deep canyons throughout the pine-covered forests of northern Arizona. Hearing that distinct gobble at dawn creates an excitement in a growing group of hunters that enjoy the pursuit and calling these birds to within shotgun range.
Wild turkey populations are increasing in Arizona and throughout the United States thanks to an organization called the National Wild Turkey Federation that works with state agencies on improving habitat and assists in transplanting birds in sparse areas.
This is another example where hunters are spending time and resources which has greatly improved the number of wild turkeys so that all of us can enjoy hunting, photographing, or just seeing a wild turkey in the Arizona high country.
The National Wild Turkey Federation in conjunction with the Arizona Elk Society and the Arizona Game and Fish Department has created another unique opportunity called a juniors turkey hunting camp which will be held from April 15-18. The camp will be located in the Colcord Ridge Campground which is three miles south of Highway 260 on the Young Road, which is also Forest Road 512.
This turkey hunting camp is coordinated with the opening weekend of the juniors turkey hunting season in units 3C, 4A, 4B and 23 which allows over-the-counter purchase of a spring turkey tag for properly licensed youth between the ages of 10-17 years old.
This will allow parents or friends to purchase a spring gobbler tag at a licensed dealer for a youngster in this age group and take them turkey hunting. Experiencing the wonders of the outdoors with a family member, then, hearing the call of a “tom turkey” and trying to call him within shotgun range is a real thrill.
Members of the turkey federation and a number of Game and Fish employees created the idea of a turkey camp which would provide seminars and other tips for beginning hunters in a family outing setting. This idea grew into a full-fledged youth turkey camp with meals and other unique family entertainment.
This camp at Colcord Ridge campground will have numerous activities to keep the entire family entertained.
There will be giveaways of various turkey calls for every youngster in attendance and other special free raffle drawings. Mid-day turkey-calling seminars will be given by proven veterans in the art of luring a gobbler into close range.
Many members of the Turkey Federation as well as Game and Fish employees will be available to actually assist in the field for the youth hunters and their parents who may not have the knowledge in the art of calling turkeys.
There will be a free lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday plus snacks and drinks when in the field.
To plan for the meals and all the raffle prizes, interested participants are encouraged to call Rich Williams at (602) 881-6815 or Gene Hays at (520) 579-3777. This will help them to better plan for a rewarding experience for all the junior hunters and family members.
On Saturday evening there will be campfire entertainment and I am sure some great stories of the previous two days of hunting. If you don’t know how to call turkeys, don’t worry, there will be experienced hunters in camp ready to assist everyone who wants to learn how to call a wild turkey into close range.
Come enjoy a hunting camp experience and sign up by making a phone call to one of the two numbers listed above.
This weekend, take a hike in the Rim Country, God’s creation.