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Idaho Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations

Youth Turkey Hunts: Eligibility and Guidelines

Age Restrictions for Youth Hunts

  • General Youth Hunts: Hunters aged 10 to 17 are eligible for general season youth turkey hunts.
  • Hunting Passport Holders: Hunters aged 8 or 9 holding a Hunting Passport may purchase turkey tags for general season, youth-only, depredation, and landowner permission hunts, provided they have the necessary landowner permission permit; however, they cannot engage in controlled hunts.
  • Controlled Youth Hunts: Applicants for youth-only controlled hunts must be within the 10-17 age range during the timeframe of the hunt. Actual participation in hunting is restricted to those who are at least 10 years old.
  • Junior Hunting License Purchases: A 9-year-old may buy a junior hunting license and turkey tags or apply for controlled turkey hunts, but cannot actively hunt until reaching 10 years of age.

Supervision Requirements

  • Resident Junior Hunters Under 12: Those under 12 years old must have a licensed adult (minimum 18 years old) accompanying them within a sufficient distance to maintain normal conversation or hearing range without the need for shouting or electronic assistance.
  • Nonresident Junior Mentored Hunters Under 18: Similar to resident juniors, nonresident junior hunters must also have licensed adult supervision. The adult supervisor must be close enough to communicate normally without the need for amplified voice or electronic devices.

These structured guidelines aim to provide a safe and controlled environment for youth hunters to learn and practice hunting, ensuring they do so under the guidance and supervision of experienced adults. The rules are designed to nurture responsible hunting habits among the younger generation while upholding safety as the utmost priority.

Turkey Tagging Requirements and Options

In order to legally hunt wild turkeys, individuals must have the necessary hunting license along with the appropriate turkey tags in their possession. There are distinct tag types that hunters should be aware of, as well as specific conditions pertaining to their use.

General and Controlled Turkey Tags

  • General Hunt Tags: These tags are suitable for both spring and fall general turkey hunting seasons. Should a hunter not bag a turkey in the spring season, the tag remains valid for use in the subsequent fall season of the same calendar year.
  • Controlled Hunt Tags: Designated for particular controlled hunts for which the hunter is drawn. Additionally, if unused in a controlled hunt, they can be applied to any open general season hunt within the same calendar year.

Discounted General Tags

For resident hunters looking to purchase additional tags:

  • Discounts after Initial Purchase: After buying a first full-price general or controlled hunt tag within a calendar year, residents are eligible for discounted rates on second or subsequent turkey tags. Discounted fees are set at $12.25, which includes the vendor issuance fee.
  • Maximum Purchase: A maximum of three general season turkey tags can be acquired per calendar year at discounted rates.

Special Unit Tags

  • Designated Uses: Special Unit tags are applicable for hunting in specific units (1, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 5, 6, 7, and 9) during the fall general seasons, as well as in designated depredation hunts.
  • Pricing: These Special Unit tags are priced at $5 each, inclusive of the vendor issuance fee.
  • Annual Limit: Hunters may purchase up to three Special Unit tags per calendar year, not counting those bought explicitly for depredation hunts.

This tag structure is devised to offer flexibility and affordability to turkey hunters in the state, enabling them to plan their hunting activities across various seasons and locations. The distinctions between general and controlled hunt tags, along with their respective costs and limits, ensure there is a clear framework for hunters to follow.

Controlled Hunt Permit Guidelines for Wild Turkey

Essential Documentation for Controlled Hunts

Hunters planning to participate in a controlled hunt or a landowner permission hunt for wild turkey must adhere to the following documentation requirements:

  • Required License and Tag: Every hunter must have the proper hunting license and a controlled hunt tag physically on hand when engaging in these specialized hunts.

Controlled Hunt Tag Validity

  • Specific Hunt Usage: The controlled hunt tag is exclusively valid for the particular controlled hunt to which the hunter has been drawn.
  • Expanded Validity: If the controlled hunt tag is not used in the drawn controlled hunt, it remains valid for use in any open general season turkey hunt within the same calendar year.

Hunters can find a comprehensive list of controlled hunts, including pertinent details such as locations and dates, on pages 24-25 of the provided regulatory guide. This information is crucial for hunters to ensure they are following proper protocols and possess the correct permits for their intended hunting activities.

Landowner Permission Hunts and Controlled Hunts in Turkey Season

Understanding Landowner Permission Hunts (LPH)

  • Nature of LPH: LPHs serve as a measure to address depredation and are not included within the standard controlled hunt application period.
  • Procedure for Issuance: LPH forms, distributed in triplicate by Fish and Game, are provided to landowners who undergo verifiable depredation issues that cannot be managed through non-lethal means.
  • Granting Permission: Once landowners have these forms, they may authorize hunters to hunt on their land.
  • Form Completion: Both parties, the landowner and hunter, must complete and sign their segments of the form. The hunter is obliged to hand over one copy to the landowner and carry the remaining two signed copies to a Fish and Game office for the purchase of their controlled hunt tag.
  • Tags Purchase Dates: Tags for spring hunts can be obtained starting on April 1, while tags for fall hunts become available on July 15.

Quick Tag Purchase Reference

General Season Hunts

  • Spring Turkey: Acquire a General Turkey Tag.
  • Fall Turkey: If seeking a Controlled Hunt Tag, apply from February 1 to March 1, or purchase leftover tags starting March 25 at 10:00 AM MDT.

Controlled Season Hunts

  • Spring Season: Apply for a Controlled Hunt Tag from February 1 to March 1, with leftover tags on sale from March 25 at 10:00 AM MDT.
  • Fall Season: Apply for a Controlled Hunt Tag from May 1 to June 5, with any remaining tags available on July 15 at 10:00 AM MDT.

Landowner Permission Hunt

  • LPH Acquisition: Obtain an LPH form signed by the landowner and purchase a Controlled Hunt Tag at a Fish and Game regional office.

*Note: LPH tags are valid only in specific areas and seasons as assigned by hunt numbers. Spring and fall LPH tags correspond to distinct hunts, and a turkey hunter must have both an LPH form and controlled hunt tag to be eligible. Hunters are limited to one harvest per LPH tag.

Controlled Hunt Eligibility

Only valid hunting license holders can apply for controlled hunts with the following limitations:

  • Exclusions: Those with a Nongame Hunting License, Hunting Passport, or holding a Three-Day Nonresident Small Game License are ineligible to apply for any form of controlled hunts.

These regulations are put in place to maintain a structured approach to turkey hunting in areas where there is a necessity for population control and to address landowner concerns regarding wildlife-caused damages. It ensures that hunters can engage in legal, ethical, and organized hunting with due respect to property rights and wildlife management objectives.

Turkey Controlled Hunt Application Schedule and Procedures

Key Application Periods and Deadlines

  • Spring Hunt Applications: Accepted from February 1 to March 1. Results announced by March 20. Surplus tags on sale starting March 25 at 10:00 AM MDT.
  • Fall Hunt Applications: Accepted from May 1 to June 5. Results announced by July 10. Surplus tags on sale July 15 at 10:00 AM MDT.

Application Submission Options

  • Electronic Applications: Accessible through any Fish and Game license vendor, by calling 1-800-554-8685, or via the Fish and Game website.
  • Application Start Time: Applications accepted no sooner than the first day of each application period.

Application Rules and Fees

  • Single Application Limit: Only one application is allowed per person or group. Duplicate entries will result in disqualification.
  • Controlled Hunt Fee: A non-refundable $6.25 for residents or $18 for nonresidents must accompany applications.
  • Credit Card Payments: Available over the phone or online with an additional processing fee (Phone: 3% + $5.50; Online: 3% + $3.50).

Group Applications

  • Joint Applications: A group of two hunters may submit a single application for the same hunt.

Refunds and Drawings

  • Refund Policy: Unsuccessful applicants will not receive refunds for hunting license or application fees.
  • Second Choice Option: Non-selected applications will be automatically entered into a second-choice draw if applicable.

Notification of Results

  • Applicant Responsibility: Hunters are responsible for checking draw results.
  • Spring Season Notification: Available by March 20 via the Fish and Game website. Successful applicants will receive a postcard by this date.
  • Fall Season Notification: Results published by July 10.

Nonresident Tag Limits and Leftover Tags

  • Nonresident Limit: Up to 10% of tags may be allocated to nonresident applicants.
  • Leftover Tags: Unsold tags from the controlled hunt may be sold on a first-come, first-served basis (10% nonresident limit waived).

Tag Designation

  • Transfer to Youth: A controlled hunt tag holder can assign their tag to a qualified child or grandchild under 18.
  • Single Designation: Only one tag transfer is permitted per year, and it must occur before the hunt start date.
  • Residency Matching: Resident adults can transfer tags to resident youth; nonresident to nonresident.

For additional information and the necessary forms to designate a tag, individuals should contact the nearest Fish and Game office or check the licensing section on the Fish and Game website.

Idaho Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations

Wild Turkey Tagging Process

Immediate Action Post-Harvest

Upon the successful harvest of a wild turkey, it is imperative that the hunter validates and affixes the designated turkey tag to the bird without delay.

Tag Validation Requirements

  • Cut-Out Triangles: Hunters must physically modify the tag by excising two triangles along its border. One triangle signifies the month, and the other specifies the day of the harvest.

Attachment and Transportation

  • Securing the Tag: Once validated, the tag must be securely attached to the wild turkey, ensuring it remains firmly in place.
  • During Transit and Storage: The tag must remain affixed to the turkey throughout any transportation and storage phases until the final processing.

Prohibited Practices in Turkey Hunting

Unlawful Hours and Equipment

  • Legal Shooting Hours: Turkeys must not be hunted outside the designated shooting hours specified by law.
  • Shot Size Restrictions: The use of lead shot is illegal if it is larger than BB size, and the use of steel shot is prohibited when it exceeds T size.

Restricted Methods

  • Use of Dogs: Employing dogs for turkey hunting is forbidden, save for during the fall hunting season.
  • Traps and Snares: It is illegal to capture turkeys using traps, snares, nets, or crossbows.
  • Appropriate Firearms: The only permissible firearms for turkey hunting are shotguns with shells not exceeding 3 1⁄2 inches in maximum length, or muzzleloading shotguns.

Other Illegal Practices

  • Watercraft: Turkeys cannot be legally hunted from any watercraft.
  • Electronic Calls: The deployment of electronic calls as a hunting aid is prohibited.
  • Baiting: The use of any attractant substance considered as bait is disallowed in turkey hunting.
  • Airguns: Hunting turkeys with an airgun using pre-charged pneumatic power is illegal, especially when the projectiles are less than thirty (.30) caliber.

Additional Consideration

  • Potential Rule Changes for Crossbows: While a rule change to allow crossbows for upland game bird hunting, including turkeys, has been proposed, it is not in effect without legislative approval. Hunters should verify the latest regulations on the Idaho Fish & Game website before using a crossbow for hunting upland game birds.

Turkey Hunting Shooting Hours

Hunters must adhere to the specified periods during which shooting is legal. For turkey hunting, shooting hours commence from one-half hour before sunrise and extend until sunset. It is essential for hunters to observe these times to comply with legal hunting regulations.

Transport Guidelines for Wild Turkey

When transporting a harvested wild turkey, it is mandatory that the bird's beard or leg remain naturally attached to the carcass. This requirement is important for species identification and to ensure compliance with hunting regulations.

Turkey Hunting Daily Bag and Season Limits

Daily Bag Limits

  • Spring Season: Each hunter may take up to two (2) male turkeys per day, defined as a male or any turkey with a visible beard.
  • Fall Season: The daily limit is determined by the number of valid turkey tags a hunter possesses, allowing for the take of either-sex turkeys.

Season Limits

  • Spring Season: A maximum of two (2) male turkeys can be harvested per hunter during the spring season up until May 26, with the same definition of a legal turkey as in the daily bag limit.
  • Fall Season: During the fall, a hunter may take as many turkeys as the number of legal tags they hold for that calendar year.

Important Consideration

  • Counting Tags: Tags utilized during the January 1 – 31 season will be counted towards the available tags for the remaining spring and fall seasons within the same calendar year.

Idaho's Wild Turkey Populations and Origins

Overview

Idaho's landscape is home to introduced populations of wild turkeys, which are represented by shaded regions on distribution maps.

Introductions and Transplantations

  • Initial Introduction: Wild turkeys are not indigenous to Idaho. The first introduction occurred in 1961, with over 150 translocation projects being executed across the state since then.
  • Subspecies Diversity: Three different subspecies have been introduced: the Merriam's, the Rio Grande, and the Eastern wild turkeys.

Subspecies Distribution

  • Merriam's Wild Turkey: Representing over 90% of Idaho's turkey population, this subspecies has flourished, particularly in the Panhandle, Clearwater, and Southwest regions. The Merriam's was the first subspecies released in Idaho and remains the most widespread.

  • Rio Grande Wild Turkey: Introduced in 1982, this subspecies can be found in limited numbers along the riparian zones of the Snake, Boise, Payette, and Weiser rivers.

  • Eastern Wild Turkey: With only a few introduction sites, primarily near Dworshak Reservoir, the Eastern wild turkey has a more restrained presence within the state.

Hybrid Populations

  • Hybrid Occurrence: Idaho hosts a number of hybrid turkeys due to interbreeding between the introduced subspecies, contributing to a diverse genetic mix in many areas of the state.

Idaho Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations

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