OR Spring Turkey Forecast (2011)

Eleven-year-old Alex Wildman got his gobbler last weekend, and now Oregon’s older turkey gunners get their chance. The general hunt starts this weekend.

ALEX WILDMAN'S MENTORED YOUTH TURKEY HUNT GOBBLER, SHOT LAST WEEKEND WITH HIS FATHER, MATHEW. ALEX SHOT THE BIG BIRD AT 6:30 A.M. NEAR CROW AT 15 YARDS WITH A 20 GAUGE AFTER IT RESPONDED TO A BOX CALL AND JAKE DECOY. IT WAS THE SPRINGFIELD LAD'S FIRST BIRD; "I'M SO PROUD OF HIM," WRITES MATHEW. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

And just in case gas prices or honey-dos have kept you from spring scouting, here’s what ODFW wildlife biologists are saying about this season’s forecast, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report.

NORTHWEST

TURKEYS are minimal in the north coast.

SOUTHWEST

Coos County: SPRING TURKEY opens April 15. While concentrations are not as high as Douglas County, coast populations are doing well. Remember to get permission to hunt on private lands.

Douglas County: SPRING TURKEY season begins April 15th so start practicing your calling. Last years chick/poult counts showed slightly below average production but hunters can expect the spring gobbler hunt this year to be excellent. Over the last 10 years all indicators point to a healthy and increasing turkey population in Douglas County. While the hens are off nesting the first part of the season most toms are found on private land sometimes adjacent to public lands. In general, most turkeys are found on or adjacent to low-mid elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat. Hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on private lands.

Jackson, Josephine and Curry Counties: TURKEY spring season opens April 15. Wet springs for the last few years have reduced our chick production. This has only reduced the number of birds within the flocks. We still have a large number of flocks throughout our area and we still expect average success. Most turkeys are found in low-mid elevation of oak and conifer mix forests with there associated meadows and clearings. Turkeys will be feeding on green grasses and insects. Use locator calls before light or after dark to locate roosting trees then set up in an area of their travel and begin call as light approaches. Private lands hold a considerable amount of turkeys, ask for permission to hunt.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

Spring TURKEY season opens statewide on April 15. Season dates and bag limits can be found on page 15 of the 2010-2011 Oregon Game Bird Regulations. Turkeys in the Willamette area are mostly found on private lands. There are good hunting opportunities for hunters that have completed their early season scouting and obtained permission to hunt on private lands. Please remember to respect private property.

Private timber company lands can be productive places to hunt if the landowner is allowing hunting access. Check out ODFW’s Access & Habitat Program for a list of participants: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/AH/hunting

CENTRAL ZONE

PRINEVILLE/OCHOCO WILDLIFE DISTRICT TURKEY: The district experienced an extended winter and late spring so turkeys may be slower to come off private land and head for higher elevation public land Remember to ask for permission to hunt.

THE DALLES WILDLIFE DISTRICT: TURKEYS tend to be found in the oak-conifer transition zone and much of this is on private land. Remember to ask permission to hunt private land.

WHITE RIVER WILDLIFE AREA: GENERAL SPRING TURKEY: General spring turkey season opens April 15-31.  Turkeys can be found throughout WRWA and higher on the National Forest. Look for turkeys along ridges and in areas that have oak trees and openings. For best results scout before the season to locate birds.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

HARNEY COUNTY: TURKEYS can be found in the northern portion of the county on or near national forestland.

NORTHEAST ZONE

BAKER COUNT: General spring turkey season runs April 15 through May 31. Hunters should concentrate their efforts around lower elevation levels where there has been some early spring green up. There are still heavy snow levels in the higher elevations. Public land hunting opportunities exist on BLM and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest as well as the ODFW managed Elkhorn Wildlife Area. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.

GRANT COUNTY: TURKEYS are scattered throughout the district. The middle fork of the John Day River and Murderers Creek are good areas to start looking.

MORROW, GILLIAM and WHEELER COUNTIES: TURKEY opens on the 15th across the state. Turkey numbers appear to be steady across the District. The southern portion of the forest has the highest numbers of turkeys as they move up from their wintering areas. As the season continues, turkeys will move up slope with the snow melt. Turkeys can be found in most areas of the forest in both the Heppner and Fossil Unit. Hunter success should be about average this year.

Union County: TURKEY season opens April 15. Toms have been sighted strutting all over the county. The highest densities of birds are in the north end of Union County; however turkeys are well distributed throughout. Snow will limit vehicle access to higher elevations but walk-in hunters may find birds on open south slopes that are surrounded by snow.

LADD MARSH WILDLIFE AREA: TURKEY hunting is allowed in the Glass Hill Unit (west of Foothill Rd) of Ladd Marsh. There is a small resident population on this part of Glass Hill. Birds often move between ODFW and adjacent private property. Some adjacent land owners participate in the Access and Habitat Program and allow public access. A kiosk at the Foothill access point shows public access areas. There are also maps available at the kiosk as well as the Northeast Region Office.

WALLOWA DISTRICT: TURKEY: Most turkeys wintered well and hunters should find birds well scattered in the Wenaha, Sled Springs, and Chesnimnus units. Vehicle access will be difficult until early May due to deep snow drifts.

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