WU Game Bird Club
Wild Turkey Hunting
Wilderness Unlimited entered the world of wild turkey hunting back in 1994. Prior to that season, staff felt W.U.hunting Club's lands did not contain a large enough turkey population to conduct a decent turkey hunting program. The resulting story is just one of W.U.’s highly regarded successes.
It is safe to say, when W.U.Hunting Club first started, there were few or possibly no turkeys on W.U. held lands. In the early 90’s however, W.U. member field observations reported more and more turkey sightings. Based on those observations, for the ’94 season, staff put together a limited turkey hunting program. W.U.’s planning included consulting with the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and Terry Knight, perhaps California’s most experienced and knowledgeable turkey hunter.
The plan was set in a manner that only W.U. and its members are capable of doing. A pool of 50 turkey hunters were drawn at random and assigned to one of the seven ranches selected for the season. Following other W.U. education programs, Terry Knight led a “wild turkey hunting” seminar† for the “pool” hunters and others, as well.
The turkey hunters went “knowledgably” into the field in pursuit of turkeys. At the end of the season they reported back a wealth of data; number of birds heard, seen, shot at, harvested, etc. The groundwork was laid for W.U.'s Hunting Club to expand its turkey hunting program.
Today, W.U.’s turkey population has grown exponentially to over 30 ranches, including opportunities in Oregon. In fact, W.U.'s Hunting Club is known as one of the best turkey hunting programs in the West. Check out Terry Knight's article Fall Turkey, Fall 2010.
† Wilderness Unlimited and Terry Knight expanded this turkey hunting seminar to include the public in 1996 in conjunction with the NWTF and the DFG. The “Wild Turkey Expo” as it came to be known expanded each year outgrowing numerous venues. The concept of multi-agency/partner organizations leading hands-on turkey hunter education workshops was born. The resultant success led to what is now overseen by the DFG as the “Advanced Hunter Education” program with numerous workshops held annually, statewide.
Some of these workshops are co-hosted by W.U. Again this year, W.U. and the NWTF will host the Wild Turkey Expo through the Wilderness Unlimited Foundation.