ND Spring Turkey Hunting Preview
While the official first day of spring has come and gone, the outdoor world still looks much like winter as snow events continue across North Dakota. While just two weeks out, hunters participating the spring turkey hunting season will likely face some snow-
related challenges when it kicks off on April 8. Despite that fact, turkey populations are
in good shape throughout the state, and hunters should see good opportunities to
harvest a bird this season, according to Clayton Lenk, District Biologist for the National
Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
“Overall, I’d say [wild turkey populations] are looking pretty good, especially out in the
western portion of the state. When you start getting into more of those riparian areas
where the birds tend to be along the Missouri and Little Missouri,” Lenk predicts, adding
“there has been a little bit of weather, but overall I don’t think that will affect the birds too bad this year.”
This year, North Dakota’s turkey units saw a slight decline in the number of licenses
offered, with a total of 7,412 tags available to hunters overall. This was off 235
compared to the spring of 2022. Two units had increased opportunities, eight exhibited
lower populations and lower tag numbers as a result, while 11 units remained the same
as the previous spring hunting season. As with other populations of huntable wildlife,
habitat remains a critical component in sustaining birds and Lenk feels things remain
good overall for the present season, with a lot of upside for those looking to improve
turkey habitat on their properties.
“There are no real condition concerns, but there are always ways to improve habitat.
Obviously better, more diverse habitat would be more ideal for hens, just from a
camouflage standpoint and just from a nesting opportunity standpoint as well. There’s
always chances to improve habitat, especially with some programs like CRP where
landowners can get some of those costs shared through those types of programs,” Lenk
In addition to opening access to turkey hunters across North Dakota, NWTF is banking
on private lands partnerships and work with government agencies and non-profit
organizations to maximize areas where turkeys can nest, rear their broods and thrive in
the state and throughout the Midwest.
“A lot of what we do in North Dakota are grazing improvement projects, which don’t
sound very habitat-oriented at the surface, but when we start looking at livestock
exclusions from riparian areas with fencing and things like that allowing those riparian
areas to grow back and flourish to the native vegetation that should be there, those are
the types of things that provide those brooding habitats and roosting habitats,” Lenk
More information on NWTF habitat initiatives can be found by visiting NWTF.org. This
year’s North Dakota spring turkey hunting season begins on Apr. 8 and ends on May
14. Hunting hours are from one half hour before sunrise until sunset.
By: Nick Simonson