Thanksgiving is all about friends, family, eating turkey and giving thanks. But to eat turkey, you have to have one in hand. Some hit the local grocery store, while others invest in a farm-raised bird. Others, like us, like to hunt and take one for the holiday table.
If you've waited until Thanksgiving itself, there's still time for you to close the deal on a bird . . . if you live or hunt in the following states.
In my native state of Pennsylvania, wild turkeys are considered big game, and with good reason. Targeting the big birds on the mountain ridges of north-central Pennsylvania where I grew up is a little different than hunting a small woodlot or field elsewhere. We're proud of that fact. The fall turkey hunting tradition is big, and an important part of the autumn season. Participation is high when compared to other states.
Okay, take a deep breath, and put your stereotypes aside . . . yes, Long Island. The place is overrun with the big birds. The expanded New York state fall turkey season in this region, which includes Thanksgiving day, is an effort to curb growth, provide a hunting opportunity – and maybe even a wild turkey for your holiday table.
Several special details must be kept in mind:
Hunting New York fall turkeys is only legal from sunrise to sunset.
You've heard me boast about Nebraska's turkey hunting opportunities before, and here I go again.
The fall turkey hunting season (and winter) runs until Jan. 31, 2018, after starting way back on Sept. 15. If you hunt right before Thanksgiving, please keep this Nebraska Game and Parks regulation in mind:
Turkey hunting is allowed during the November firearm deer hunting season, Nov. 11-19, 2017. Hunter orange is not required of fall turkey hunters, EXCEPT when hunting turkeys during the November firearm deer season, when they must display at least 400 square inches of hunter orange on their head, chest and back.
In some ways, Kansas is as good as Nebraska, and turkey populations are robust here as well. Season dates for fall and winter turkeys are also generous, and include Thanksgiving day.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country.