By Josh Boyd
If you are like most die-hard turkey hunters, the end of the spring season comes all too soon. For the lucky among us that fill their yearly bag limit in a matter of days, seasons can seem like a here today, gone tomorrow proposition.
This does little but leaves us wishing we could extend our time chasing turkeys, indefinitely. The only option that this provides us with is to seek an alternative destination across state lines in which to resume our efforts.
But where, exactly, should we travel, and why? What makes a particular location worthy of a last-minute trip that often costs us leave time from work, as well as money for permits, licenses, and fuel?
Here is a list of 10 states that offer a noteworthy opportunity for those with a desire to chase long beards wherever they may roam.
If you want to complete your Grand Slam by taking all four American subspecies of wild turkey, you will not do it without a trip to Florida. This state is the only location where one of the four subspecies, the Osceola, can be found.
Florida turkey numbers are estimated at a count of 100,000 birds, with a mix of both Eastern and Osceola subspecies, depending upon where you are in the state. A 10-day non-resident hunting license and corresponding turkey permit can be had for $171.50.
The state of Tennessee offers some of the most fantastic turkey hunting in the entire nation. The Volunteer State offers an abundant range of terrain in which to hunt. From the fertile farmland along the Mississippi River to the west, to the rugged and mountainous landscape of the east, many different adventures can all be had without ever leaving Tennessee’s borders.
If hunting in Tennessee had one downfall, it would be the price of non-resident licenses and permits, which come to a total of $214.50. However, with lengthy season dates, and a four-turkey limit, you do end up getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Missouri has long been known as a hotspot for dynamic turkey hunting action. This state offers hunters wide-ranging habitat in which to hunt and a multitude of public land hunting opportunities. With a total of 1.5 million acres of public land in the Ozarks alone, any visiting hunters will certainly not feel restricted in elbow-room.
The Show-Me State boasts an estimated Eastern Wild Turkey population that numbers 317,000, which far exceeds that of many other surrounding destinations. At $190, non-resident licenses and fees run along the median line for similar outings elsewhere.
The Bluegrass State is yet another destination where multiple terrain variations can be hunted in a single trip. Marsh-like wetlands, expansive pasture ground, rolling river bottoms, and mountainous country can all be found in Kentucky, and there is no shortage of turkeys that inhabit each of these regions.
Kentucky’s turkey population is estimated to number 220,000 birds in total, and a two-turkey bag limit per person has been the standard for many years. The only notable downside to hunting in the Bluegrass State is the state’s notable non-resident licensing fees, which totals $215.
If you want to test your turkey hunting merit against some of the wariest turkeys anywhere in the nation, Alabama is the destination for you. Though no shortage of birds exists, Alabama turkeys are among some of the most heavily pressured in the nation. However, do not let this fool you, as a historical annual harvest of 60,000 birds shows that successful hunts are quite common.
Alabama estimates their turkey population at 400,000, though many cite this number as being very conservative. Non-resident fees vary between $131.65 and $301.85, depending upon the exact permits selected.
We all know that everything is bigger in Texas, and the state’s boundless turkey hunting potential is no exception. The Lone Star State offers some of the finest turkey hunting in all the south and is home to both Eastern and Rio Grande subspecies. The sheer size of Texas offers many different locations and habitat variations for a hunter to stage their efforts.
The state of Texas is home to an estimated 500,000 turkeys, which is even more notable, considering that only a little over 40,000 licenses are sold annually. For a rather reasonable fee of $126, non-residents can take in some of the most renowned turkey hunting in the nation.
The Sunflower State has been providing hunters with some of the most phenomenal turkey chasing opportunities to be had for quite a few years now. Habitat varies in Kansas, from prairie to expansive farmland, and Kansas gobblers tend to be some of the heaviest birds killed during any given spring.
Kansas turkey numbers are estimated at 300,000, and both Eastern and Rio Grande subspecies call the state home. Abundant private land access can also typically be found by simply knocking on doors and speaking with landowners. Non-resident license and permit fees are priced conservatively, at $127.50.
Although Wisconsin tends to be absent from many hunter’s turkey hunting to-do lists, the opportunity for a remarkable Eastern Wild Turkey hunt is far greater than one would think. The Badger State offers habitat that is perfectly suited to turkeys, especially across its southern half, and with an estimated population of 350,000 turkeys, there is no shortage of potential.
Perhaps the greatest selling point for this northern adventure is Wisconsin’s reasonable $83.55 non-resident license and permit fee. Regarding land access, public ground can be quite scarce. However, many hunters have found great success by simply presenting their request for access to local landowners.
Nebraska offers a little something for every turkey hunter, including the chance at tagging three different subspecies of turkeys on one trip. The Cornhusker State is home to Eastern, Merriam’s, and Rio Grande Wild Turkeys, depending upon what portion of the state you are in.
The state of Nebraska also boasts an estimated population of 145,000 turkeys, offering plenty to go around for the average annual 40,000 license holders. Anyone venturing to the state can purchase their permits and a two-day non-resident hunting license for a total of $167, likely making travel your most significant expense.
While Washington is not typically a place many think of when eyeing a turkey hunting destination, its diversity and availability of public land give the state a rightful spot on this list. The Evergreen State also offers hunters a chance at three of the four Wild Turkey subspecies (Rio Grande, Merriam’s, and Eastern), and success rates are typically high.
Though Washington’s estimated population count of just 28,000 turkeys is among the lowest on this list, equally low license sales numbering just 20,000 keep hunting pressure low. Non-resident hunters can purchase licenses and permits for just $112.50, though additional tags will cost an extra $66.50 each.