Turkey season isn’t open yet, but it’s not too early to start looking around. I drew a tag for an area I’ve never hunted before, the Northeast region of Utah. Truth be told, I put in for the region by mistake, I thought I had put in for another region, an area I knew well and had hunted before. Note to self: Lay off the Crown Royal when applying for hunts late at night. I didn’t have any preference points, so I didn’t think I would draw this year- but as luck would have it, I did. The first place I thought of hunting in the region was along the Green River , my old stomping grounds.
I used to live and guide trout fisherman in the area years ago, back in the early to mid-90′s; it seems like I lived there in another lifetime. Pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre-real job, pre-everything. There were no turkeys around when I lived there, but the Utah division of wildlife has reintroduced the birds to the river, and they have done well. The birds were thriving all along the river, all the way from Flaming Gorge Reservoir and downstream well past Vernal.
The landscape has changed quite a bit since I lived there, the result of the Mustang Ridge fire in 2002. The fire consumed 20,000 acres of pinyon and juniper, leaving behind open hillsides and ridge tops unsuitable for sustaining the elk and deer herds of the past. I have a hard time looking at the landscape now, remembering how beautiful and vibrant it was before the fire. The fire even jumped over the river at Little Hole.
The turkey sign in the area is abundant as we begin to scout , and I shouldn’t have too much trouble finding them on opening day. The locals tell me which turkeys I can chase and which ones they consider as pets. I put a plan in place and decide to fish the rest of the time I am here. The fish are healthy, and the weather is as unpredictable as ever, 65 degrees and sunny on the first day, 30 and snowing the next. The weather has kept everyone off the river on our second day. That’s what early April is like, the best fishing in the worst weather if you can stick it out.