Autumn is here, and with it come many changes. Trees are turning brown, leaves are falling off, and hunters everywhere are setting out to hunt their favorite prey, turkeys! These kooky little gobblers are huntable in 47 out of the 50 states. However, not every state offers the same opportunities for the big game. Some parts of the country offer greater trophy sizes, larger flocks, or even easier prey.
If you want to maximize your chances of coming home with a prize, then your best bet is to visit one of these places. But, with all of these options, how can you choose just one? The answer is simple; you don’t have to focus on a specific locale. Read below and discover the top eight places to hunt turkeys in the United States!
Top 8 Best States for Hunting Turkeys
The common consensus among hunters is that Missouri is hands-down the best state for hunting turkeys in the United States. In fact, according to hunter folklore, this state was the birthplace of turkey hunting in the United States.
Why is that, you might ask? It’s because of a relocation that happened between the years 1956 and 1979. A project to conserve the turkey population took effect with great results during that timeframe.
Thanks to those efforts, we can safely hunt turkeys in numerous states without fear of reducing the population to unsustainable numbers.
As such, many hunters come to Missouri with the hopes emulating turkey-hunting legends.
However, keep in mind that you’re not the only hunter seeking to get their hands on a prize tom. Over 100,000 hunters visit Missouri every year hoping to bag a kill. What this means is that your competition will be stiff, and you’re going to need honing your skills if you’re hoping for a victory.
Yet another, fantastic spot for turkey hunters looking to score a kill. Home to over 500,000 turkeys, the odds of your success in Alabama are exponentially high.
One of the best parts of Alabama is the high-harvest limit for kills. A hunter can score five kills on their license during both seasons of the year. You’ll find very few states offer such generous limitations.
Your best bets will come from focusing on the central regions in Alabama. Specifically around the Black Belt Region, which great for hunters on a budget.
However, if you’re in the mood for a great hunt, remember that you can find numerous public land areas open to hunters. Don’t be afraid to connect with the local hunters in the state either as they’re a great source of information.
Finally, keep in mind that you’ll be hunting primarily the Eastern Subspecies of turkey in this area.
The rumor is that everything is bigger in Texas, but does that include turkeys as well? Nevertheless, while we can’t confirm or deny their sizes, we can certainly vouch for this state’s abundance of opportunities for hunters. Featuring a population of nearly 500,000 turkeys, and a kill limit of four per season, Texas places just below Alabama in our list.
Guided turkey hunts are the cream of the crop in Texas. Thankfully, you can acquire special permits that will allow you to hunt them on your own. Yet, Texas does offer a few public lands open to hunters, but these are far and few in-between.
Finally, Texas is home to three different species of turkeys you’ll primarily find Rio Grandes and Easterns. Nevertheless, there is a small population of Merriams you can find if you get lucky.
If you’re looking to score an Osceola sub-species for your trophy collection, then Florida is your go-to spot. But, even if that’s not your primary target, don’t worry as it’s still a fantastic state to visit if you’re a hunter looking for turkeys. The Florida panhandle is home to over 150,000 birds with at least 2/3 of those being Osceola. Nevertheless, the best part comes from not having to worry about it snowing.
However, you will have to deal with mosquitoes, bugs, crocodiles, and snakes. A limit of two gobblers per area and other restrictions also dock points from Florida as far as hunting goes.
Nevertheless, if you want to get an early start into your spring hunting, this state is among the best. Florida starts theirs during the first week of March on the southern counties. The other parts will follow soon after.
Moving towards the northern states, Pennsylvania offers some of the best possible opportunities for hunters. Quaker country is famous for their yearly bounty of turkeys and the high number of harvests tallied at the end of the year. Furthermore, Pennsylvania is home to over 200,000 wild gobblers. These healthy numbers ensure a steady population without fear of dwindling numbers.
However, while it’s a great state for hunting one or two turkeys, there are some serious restrictions that we need to note. Pennsylvania limits seasonal kills to a maximum of two with further restrictions including, one turkey per day. The second turkey will also require a special license. Finally, the season is short, running from late April towards the end of May.
Home to deer, antlers, and the neighboring portions of the great lakes, Wisconsin is home to over 350,000 turkeys. Northern region hunters swear by this state and for good reason. With such a vast population, and high concentration of turkeys, you’re almost certain to bag yourself a prize.
However, it wasn’t always like this. Turkeys in Wisconsin almost disappeared at one point, and it wasn’t until their reintroduction in 1976 that they made a comeback. A mixture of a strong wildlife conservation effort, and the abundant natural surrounding habitats made it possible for them to return with a vengeance.
Yet, hunters need to consider a few things before setting off. Wisconsin has limited public spaces for hunting available. Private landowners typically don’t have issues with hunters seeking out turkeys in their property, but the same can’t be said about deer. Additionally, the southwest and western portions of the state are the best locations to hunt.
7. South Dakota
North Dakota’s sibling state is another great place to snag a gobbler or two. Black Hills is the place to go in South Dakota. Known, not only for its beautiful scenery, but also for also relatively crazy number of gobblers in this particular region. Especially, since the overall turkey population in the state is average at best.
However, successful hunt rates are still high, and that means that you can go out and statistically expect to bag yourself a kill. Additionally, it’s a great place to hunt other types of fowl.
The home of the city of Columbus, Ohio is also a great place for turkey hunters to visit. Primarily known for its deer population, this state is home to over 150,000 Eastern gobblers. Your best bets are in the southeastern regions with the Salt Fork Wildlife Area being one of the best.
Ohio is also home to plenty of open to the public for hunting with a high concentration of habitats for turkeys. You can hunt a plethora of birds in this state, and with the right licenses, you can even bag yourself two kills per day.
If you live close to Ohio and love turkey hunting, you should definitely consider visiting it. You’ll find yourself bagging numerous prizes each season.
Now that you know which states are the best, make some plans and head out to the nearest one. But, please keep in mind the following pieces of advice.
1. Out-of-State Hunting License
You will need a license to hunt outside your state of residence. These licenses usually incur a proportionally heftier fee than home state ones, and are mandated by law. If you’re caught hunting without one, prepare yourself to pay some serious fines as well as additional penalties. As such, it is a pragmatic and financially wise decision to get one as early as possible. Feel free to apply online (if possible) before heading out.
2. Plan Early
You have your license, now it’s time to get ready for your road trip. Don’t rush to get everything ready at the last possible minute. Be smart, and make a list of items you’ll need. Plan for any possible scenario in case you’re going to be sleeping in the woods. Ensure you have the means of staying in communication with emergency services or loved ones as much as possible.
3. Get Plenty of Rest Beforehand
Driving requires a lot of energy, if you’re going on an especially long trip, rest every eight of ten hours. Avoid driving at night, as it is dangerous if it is unfamiliar territory. Don’t rush to your destination, it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
4. Verify the Subspecies
There is a surprising variety of gobbles out there, if you’re looking for a specific one, research the area further in-depth. Especially if you’re a trophy hunter. If instead you’re just looking for a meal, try visiting the states closer to you.
5. Limits and Restrictions
Our list gives you examples and overviews of each state, but it does not have all the information you’ll want to have. Before heading out, verify the harvest limitations, the season start/end dates, list of public lands open for hunters, and for states such as Texas, the price of guided hunts.
6. Consider Bringing your Family
The family that hunts together stays together, and hunting is a great way to bond with yours. You can use the opportunity to teach your younglings about respecting nature and getting in touch with their roots.
Pack your bags, get your gear ready, and set out on road trip. You’re about to go on the wildest turkey hunting trip of your life. You’ve done the research, gathered information, and prepared yourself thoroughly for the hunting trip of a lifetime. While it’s true that every state offers a specific set of advantages, the ones on our list are simply the best.
A great hunter seeks his prey regardless of where it goes. Thanks to all of these choices available, you’re bound to live close to one or two places nearby your home state. A simple trip is all it takes to bag yourself a king-size turkey that can feed an entire family! Now your goal is to get yourself out there, have some fun, and bring home the (turkey) bacon.