The spring turkey hunting season came to a close yesterday throughout all of northern Arizona. The birds in the local units of 22, 23 and 6A were very obliging in that they continued to turkey talk to the final days of the hunt. This is not often the case, where in previous years the last week of the season is often quiet in the early morning hours prior to sunrise.
This could be attributed to the late spring with cold temperatures and above-normal snowfall in some of the prime turkey habitat. Weather can have an impact on wildlife activity in the woods, especially the high winds, which seemed to be so prevalent the last six weeks.
When the winds did not blow, the early morning hours echoed with numerous gobblers saying “good morning” to daybreak in the eastern sky. Most hunters reported abundant numbers of birds in the local units, which is good news for the future population of the Merriam turkey and later hunting seasons.
This is the time when the hens are sitting on the eggs, waiting for the new hatch, which will add to the growing population of wild turkeys. The hens and their eggs are very vulnerable to predators for the rest of the spring until the chicks are hatched and have the ability to fly. If you happen to wander onto a hen turkey in the wild, steer clear and give her plenty of space as she may be guarding her nest.
Another reason for an increasing turkey population is habitat that has been restored by two wet winters in a row, which improves the spring and summer grasses, a part of their diet along with numerous insects and seeds.
A controlled burn or wildfire can actually be beneficial as it cleans the forest floor and allows the new tender shoots of grasses to grow. Turkeys, as well as all other wildlife, benefit from a healthy forest. That is, one which has these islands of grasslands throughout the timber.
As a final note on the spring gobbler season, congratulations to the Arizona Game and Fish Department for creating the over-the-counter junior turkey tag which gave numerous youngsters the opportunity to hunt “old longbeard” if accompanied by an adult.
Nate McMullen camped out with his father, Craig, at the Junior Turkey Camp on Sharp Creek, which was also hosted by Game and Fish. The camp was another idea put into action and sponsored by numerous volunteer clubs, such as the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The weekend outing was a tremendous success. More than 200 attended and had the opportunity to enjoy turkey calling lessons, free raffle prizes, campfire meals, and yes, even a few gobblers were harvested by a number of young hunters. Next year’s event is already in the planning stages because of the camp’s overwhelming popularity.
Outdoor activities in the Rim Country can create various opportunities for family enjoyment with the investment of quality time paying big dividends later on.
This weekend, plan an outdoor family activity in the Rim Country — God’s creation.