Arizona kids and families: Come hunt wild turkeys with the experts
Free camps near Alpine, Flagstaff and Payson offer food, seminars, more
Kids and their families are invited to learn how to hunt wild turkeys, under the guidance of experts, the weekend of April 15-17. There are three separate camps, located near Alpine, Payson and Flagstaff.
The camps are free to young hunters and their families and offer a fun-filled weekend of adventure in the outdoors. On hand will be experienced hunters, Game and Fish biologists, and plenty of food.
Activities that will be offered at all the camps include:
Lessons and advice about finding and hunting turkey
Turkey calling seminars Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m.
Registered hunters will receive a turkey call and other prizes
Free lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday; lunch on Sunday
Daily activities for family members
Saturday evening entertainment around the campfire
"Hunting strutting turkeys in the spring season is incredibly exciting, and is probably one of the best ways to introduce a youngster to big game hunting," said Brian Wakeling, chief of game management with the department.
The camps are located at:
White Mountains Camp – Serving Game Management Units 1 and 27, this camp is based near Alpine, located at the junction of Forest Road (FR) 249 and FR 276, 5 miles west of Alpine. To register, contact Eugene Hays at (520) 579-3777, or at email@example.com.
Payson / Mogollon Rim Camp – Serving Game Management Units 3C, 4A, 4B, and 23, this camp is based at Colcord Ridge Campground, located 33 miles east of Payson. Take SR 260 to FR 512 (Young Road) and turn right, then travel 3.2 miles to the campground on your left. To register, call Rich Williams at (602) 881-6815, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flagstaff Camp – Serving Game Management Units 6B and 8, this camp is based near Parks, From Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Williams, take Exit 178, Parks exit, and travel south approximately 11 miles on the county road following the signs to the Camp Raymond Boy Scout camp. To register, contact Tim Denny at (928) 301-0853, or email@example.com.
To see photos and videos from last year's hunt, visit the Game and Fish Department's Facebook events page at www.facebook.com/azgafd?sk=events.
The juniors-only nonpermit-tag season for bearded turkey runs from April 15-21. The season reopens from May 6-19 coinciding with the general season to allow families with multiple tags to hunt together. Open areas are limited to Units 1, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B, 6B (except Camp Navajo), 7, 8, 10, 12A and 27. Junior hunters must be between 10-17 years old, and kids younger than 14 are required to complete a certified hunter education course prior to the hunt. The cost of a nonpermit-tag is $10. In addition to the turkey tag, young hunters are required to have a 2011 general hunting license. Both are available at Game and Fish offices or license dealers statewide.
These camps are made possible thanks to many participating conservation organizations dedicated to passing on the hunting tradition to the next generation, including Arizona Bow Hunters Association, Arizona Deer Association, Arizona Elk Society, National Wild Turkey Federation, Outdoor Experience 4 All, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Youth Outdoors Unlimited. Without their dedication, time, money and resources, these camps would not be possible.
Turkey hunters are reminded that winter weather is variable and road closures may exist in some high-elevation areas. Furthermore, weather conditions in Arizona's high country during this time of year change quickly and hunters should prepare for freezing temperatures, snow, rain and/or sunshine – so dress and pack accordingly.
Contacts for the latest updates on road closures and conditions are:
Arizona Department of Transportation, 5-1-1 or (602) 712-7355 or www.az511.com
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, (928) 333-4301 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf
Coconino National Forest, (928) 527-3600 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino
Kaibab National Forest, (928) 635-8200 or http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai
Tonto National Forest, (602) 225-5200 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto
Arizona is home to three subspecies of wild turkey: the Merriam's (the most abundant), the Gould's (found mostly in the southern reaches of the state), and the Rio Grande (recently translocated to the far northwest of the state on the Arizona Strip). For additional information about wild turkeys, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/game_turkey.shtml.