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How Wild Turkeys Came to Wyoming

The fall wild turkey season is when many Wyoming hunters go afield in quest for the main component of their Thanksgiving dinner. But, even though many hunters have been accustomed to their bi-annual turkey hunts – there is a fall and a spring season – those events were not always possible in Wyoming.

Before the 1930’s, Wyoming did not have wild turkeys. Recognizing that Wyoming had some likely turkey habitat, the Game and Fish worked out a plan to introduce wild turkeys into the state. In 1935, the Game and Fish trapped some sage grouse, which Wyoming had in abundance, and traded them to New Mexico for 15 wild turkeys.

The department released these turkeys in the Laramie Peak area, and their dramatic increase in population is one of Wyoming’s wildlife management success stories. In a little over a decade, turkeys flourished in the area and the population exceeded 1,000 birds.

In 1951 and 1952 the Game and Fish transplanted 33 turkeys from the Laramie Peak flock to the Black Hills. The department also obtained another 15 turkeys from New Mexico and the birds were on their way to establishing huntable  numbers.

Just four years later, the flock had grown sufficiently to hold the first Black Hills hunting season.  Since that time, turkeys have been transplanted into likely habitats and now provide hunting opportunity in a number of locations mostly in northern and eastern portions of the state.

Turkey season is now open in most hunt areas and many of the locations are general license areas. Hunters can purchase general licenses over- the counter and also on the Game and Fish website.

The Game and Fish advises hunters that some of the hunt areas close Nov. 30 while others stay open until Dec. 31. Page 28 of the bird regulations lists the season dates for the various hunt areas. Turkey licenses are $16 resident and $72 nonresident.