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    Snow conditions may hinder some spring turkey hunts - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    Snow conditions may hinder some spring turkey hunts

    Snow conditions may hinder some spring turkey hunts

    Mentored youth turkey camps will still go on

    With more than a decade of prolonged drought conditions throughout Arizona, any moisture is a welcome blessing across our state’s landscapes, from low-lying deserts to high-elevation forests. However, for those sportsmen and women who live for the trials and tribulations of out-foxing a cagey, wild gobbler in Arizona’s pine forests, this past winter’s snowfall has produced some inconveniences that hunters need to be aware of before they embark on their upcoming spring adventure.

    Arizona Game and Fish Department officials in the Pinetop and Flagstaff regions advise that the snow pack is still significant in areas above 7,300-feet elevation in the White Mountains, North Kaibab Plateau, San Francisco Peaks and Mogollon Rim country, resulting in many roads being impassable or closed due to snow or muddy conditions.

    Most of the closures are on roads accessing higher elevation country in Game Management Units 1, 3C, 5B, 6A, 6B, 7, 8, 12A and 27; the southern parts of Units 4A, 4B and 5A; and the east portion of Unit 9.

    Higher-than-average winter snow and rainfall caused Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino and Kaibab National Forests’ personnel to close numerous roads across the forests to prevent road damage and off-road damage to meadows and sensitive habitats. Many of these roads access traditional turkey-hunting areas. While department personnel are working with Forest Service staff on when and which roads are opened, the forests will make the final decision on these matters.

    Despite conditions in some areas, sportsmen and women will find there is still plenty of country in which to find birds, especially if one is willing to walk into an area currently closed to vehicle traffic.

    Department officials also suggest that because the spring turkey hunts have a lengthy season, closing on May 20 this year, it may be a good option to consider venturing afield later in the season rather than on the opening weekend. With warmer weather, wind and fewer fronts coming through, the higher country will dry up quickly.

    Contacts for the latest updates on road closures and conditions in a particular area are:

    Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests at (928) 333-4301 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/contact/
    Coconino National Forest at (928) 527-3600 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/conditions/index.shtml#districts
    Kaibab National Forest at (928) 635-8200 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai/contact/
    Officials have some notes of caution for turkey hunters this spring. Do not attempt going around barricades or locked gates. Not only have many people gotten themselves stuck by doing so, they can also be cited for such action. Plan for nighttime and early morning temperatures to be below freezing, and dress appropriately.

    Finally, because of the potential for getting stuck and poor weather conditions, leave a detailed itinerary with a family member or friend, including specific hunting and camping sites and an arrival time back home.

    The department in cooperation with the National Shooting Sports Foundation Heritage Partnership and the National Wild Turkey Federation are hosting three mentored youth turkey hunting camps. Juniors-only spring turkey tags are available for purchase over-the-counter at any license dealer or department office. For a listing of camps and to register, visit www.azgfd.gov/hunting on the right side under “Mentored Hunting & Juniors-only Events.”

    Arizona Game and Fish contacts:

    Bruce Sitko, (928) 367-4281, Public Information Officer, Pinetop Regional Office
    Shelly Shepherd, (928) 214-1241, Public Information Officer, Flagstaff Regional Office

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