Following the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, the Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously to reduce permit numbers issued through the fall turkey season draw in Game Management Units 1 and 27 due to conditions resulting from the so-called Wallow Fire. Why?

“The Wallow Fire burned approximately 49 percent of Unit 1 and 28 percent of Unit 27; however, the fire damaged more than 75 percent of the primary turkey habitat in these two Units,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Game Branch Chief, Brian Wakeling. “To compound the conditions, the fire happened right when turkeys are coming off their nests, which can dramatically impact the flightless, young-of-the-year [poults].”

For the upcoming drawing cycle, there are now only 200 permits allocated for hunt number 4501 in Unit 1, a reduction of 475 permits. Unit 27 permits for hunt number 4518 is now set at 300, 600 fewer. Simple math says this is a total elimination of 1,075 fall turkey hunt permit tags.

What if you did apply for one of these turkey tags? Officials say applicants for either of these hunt numbers in the upcoming fall drawing don’t need to take action. The draw will run as normal. They’ll only issue the number of tags as amended by the Commission. Applicants not drawn? They’ll receive a bonus point.

The good news? This decision doesn’t affect non-permit tags purchased over-the-counter for archery-only and juniors-only fall turkey hunts. Arizona’s bow season for turkeys begins as early as August 19, 2011 in specific areas.

According to the AGFD, Arizona has an abundant wild turkey population throughout much of the state’s ponderosa forests. Game & Fish continues to work with the U.S. Forest Service to allow hunters access into Units 1 and 27 for upcoming fall hunts.

To see the detailed presentation given to the Commission at their recent meeting, click here.