Gobbler season: The North Dakota Game and Fish Department are expecting another tough hunting season, this time it’s turkey populationsThe number of all hunting licenses has taken a decline this year and there’s no surprise that turkeys are next in line.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The number of all hunting licenses has taken a decline this year and there’s no surprise that turkeys are next in line.
Hunters this spring season are going to have to work to fulfill their license, much like the pheasant season.
“It’s probably going to be a little more of a challenge, especially in the western part of the state,” said Stan Kohn, North Dakota Game and Fish Department upland game supervisor. “A lot of the western units have a decreased number of licenses. It’s primarily a production issue. We just haven’t had real good production in the spring.”
Not only did the units on the western side of North Dakota take a hit, but counties in the east central part of the state did as well.
“There are three units in the east, central part of the state too between Devils Lake and Jamestown that have a very comparable scenario,” Kohn said. “The rest of the state, there wasn’t any units that we increased license.”
The one new perk that hunters this season will have is multiple tags. Hunters were only allowed one tag during the spring season, but were able to have up to 15 tags during the fall season.
“This is the first time in the spring that residents have the option to have more than one tag,” Kohn said. “We just wanted to allow sportsmen to hunt if there we left over licenses.”
Curt Glasoe is an avid turkey hunter from Dickinson that works as a U.S. Forest Service Engineer is expecting the times to be tough.
The turkey hunter normally sees a high count in the Badlands area, where he works, but this season has been a big change.
“It’s going to be tougher this year,” Glasoe said. “I haven’t seen near as many. I work the Badlands and I haven’t seen very many turkeys.”
Not only can this turkey season be compared to the pheasant season, but also the sharp tailed grouse numbers.
“Though there were some localize spots for sharp tails that were too bad and the same thing with pheasants,” Kohn said. “By in large, our numbers are down in all three of those categories.”
A literal bright spot for the turkeys this season is the weather. Though Kohn said turkeys are very capable at adapting to climate conditions.
“It certainly didn’t hurt them any,” he said. “Turkeys are by in large a tough bird. If they have (roosts) nearby they seem to do all right. It certainly takes away a lot of the stress on the birds.”
However, Glasoe said that despite the harsh winter this year, he’s still hoping for some rain in the forecast.
“It should be a good spring,” he said. “Hopefully we can get some rain. Wind is blowing and dust is flying around, so we need some rain. That will help the turkeys in nesting up.”
There were two counties, Bowman and Mountrail, which had leftover tags. Kohn said the reasons behind the two counties having tags left over are different.
“Bowman area has a history of having left over licenses,” Kohn said. “I think a part of the problem is, it’s a long ways for people to go turkey hunting down there.
“(For Mountrail), I’m sure it’s the oil activity up there. A lot of folks are shying away from that area, because there’s so much traffic.”
The word of mouth has gotten around and Glasoe said turkey season is going to be tough, but it will make for an enjoyable spring.
“The word is that they are down and we don’t see nearly as many in Badlands as we have in years past,” he said. “There are scattered bunches here and there.”