Backyard Merriam’s Turkey Hunting in Idaho, Fall 2010


Hen Mirriam's turkey taken on Fall backyard turkey hunt in Idaho with Stevens Long Tom 94 A.

   Wild turkeys are not  native to Idaho and were stocked to provide sportsmen with a Spring hunting opportunity. In time, Merriam’s turkey populations grew to the point where in Idaho’s panhandle Game Units there is not only a Fall season where hens may be taken, but residents may take up to five birds to help control problem populations of turkeys around ranches and rural homesteads.

  Many live in Idaho because they enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and often keep horses, cows, barnyard chickens and other fowl. The newly imported turkeys recognized an easy food source when they found one and came in to feed with the livestock. As their numbers grew beyond a few pair, they could drive the smaller birds away from their feed and even occasionally injure larger animals, like horses, at feeding locations. No one minded having an occasional turkey visit, but when their numbers grew to 50 or more they became more than a little troublesome.

  The reason that wild turkeys congregate around barnyards in this part of Idaho is that there is little natural winter food that the turkeys can access. Acorns, the mainstay of many eastern turkey populations, are absent in this part of the state, and after the snow sticks on the ground there is little natural food available for the birds. These turkeys live near people because they can survive nowhere else in this conifer-dominated mountain habitat.

  Landowners discovered that if they were to successfully keep chickens they had to keep them in caged or protected environments if they were to have their flock survive, much less prosper sufficiently to produce eggs and fryers. The hunt shown in the video is where I filled an unused Spring turkey tag to take one of these excess turkeys out of a flock of about 30  birds. I shot a young hen, because these eat better and also to recover the wing bones to make a traditional wing-bone turkey call. If you have problems viewing the video below I also have it up on YouTube at the following link:

  While rattling corn in a  plastic bucket is a calling method, putting corn on the ground to attract turkeys, or any other game to a hunter is illegal in Idaho; although it is permitted in some other states.  

I will add the video here when I have a faster connection.

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