We've been really spoiled the past few years with turkey hunting success coming quickly and close experiences happening throughout the season. This year started with my Dad and my brother Jeff drawing out on a limited entry turkey hunt for Southern Utah. The whole idea of a limited entry turkey hunt is ridiculous and I wish Utah would rethink this. There are many options including an archery-only season, moving the youth hunt (which they should extend) and general season to earlier dates, creating an early season and a late-season to spread out hunting pressure. A lot of hunters believe that decisions by our game and fish come down to one thing: money. I'm not sure it's quite so cut and dry, but sometimes it definitely feels that way!
Anyway, the limited entry hunt was a total bust for us. We found areas with birds but failed to even lay eyes on a public land turkey. It wasn't a complete waste of time though, we were able to chase some gobbles and I did slip in a few minutes on a small stream catching native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.
The youth hunt (which is only one weekend) was pretty fun. We were back to hunting areas that we knew and were close to gobbling birds the first morning. Caden and I set up in what seemed like a good spot and actually called in another coyote (you can read about the first time this happened Here) but we didn't get an opportunity for a pic or a shot. Three different toms came within shooting distance, but always on the wrong side of the fence and on private property. So close! An early-season success would've been awesome for Cado who always seems to just miss out on hunting opportunities.
There were lots of evenings spent trying to guess where the turkeys would roost, and lots of wrong guesses. The mornings available were few and far between with work and family stuff competing for my attention. There were other opportunities, including a group of jakes that came in while I was hunting alone (if only one of the boys would've been with me!) and another group of toms that came within 10 yards, but wouldn't cross the property line.
With gobbles becoming almost non-existent and hunting the same old spots becoming a little boring, I decided to head to a new area for the last outing of the season. Atley had to work (which is a new, and super annoying issue) and Caden just wasn't interested in the last attempt. So I headed out alone in search of turkeys, or trout. The hunting bug must be wearing off since I packed my fly fishing gear on this trip too and was looking forward to trying out a couple of lakes in the area.
I made the long drive and arrived just before last light. I hurried to unload the ATV to check out the areas that looked good on OnX in hopes of roosting a bird. Unfortunately, I didn't hear any birds. When I got back to the truck I discovered that my plans of chili for dinner were flawed since I didn't pack a can opener. It seems like I always forget something, although it isn't always something as important as this. I had granola bar dinner and a restless night with no clear plan of what to do in the morning.
The morning came without any sounds of turkeys to direct my efforts, so I found a finger ridge to set up on and do some blind calling to start the day. Hound hunters driving on every little road they could find interrupted the morning quiet and inspired me to change my focus from ghost birds to fishing. The first small lake had some fish in evidence, with small ones rising to a midge hatch, and a nice one that like to follow my flies but wouldn't take. But other than that, the fishing started out much like the turkey hunting had ended. I moved onto lake number two and almost immediately hooked into a nice Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.
Too bad for him, I was in need of something to eat. With no other fish willing to play, I headed back to the truck for a fried trout lunch. Rainclouds and wind set in just as I was finishing up my delicious meal. With little to inspire me to stick it out, I decided to pack up camp and head home. On the way down the mountain I did luck into seeing a couple of bull elk. I'll be back to this area soon enough, without the distraction of turkey hunting, to do some fishing. All in all, it was a crazy busy season, and I'm looking forward to focusing on fishing this summer.
Hope you're as lucky,