Our qualifier for "early"? The scheduled “fall turkey hunting season” has to start before summer officially ends. This year, the autumnal equinox is Sept. 22. But you can hunt flocks before then . . .
Arizona: Bow season for wild turkeys starts here on Aug. 22–Sept. 11, 2014, providing the earliest action in the United States for this year's hatch and holdover birds from spring. Just over 1,000 were killed last fall.
Colorado: Over-the-counter fall turkey licenses allow you to begin hunting Sept. 1. Units vary. As with Arizona to the south, estimated numbers sit at around 30,000 turkeys. One bird limit.
Idaho: Sept. 15 kicks off the Gem State fall turkey season. Bag limit and tag availability varies. Leftover fall turkey permits went on sale July 15. Check out the website for more details.
Michigan: Hunt units vary, but the start date for all begins Sept. 15. Go here for the Michigan Fall Turkey Digest. Last fall's estimated kill on turkeys was around 4,500 either-sex birds.
Missouri: Fall turkey hunting, archery only, begins Sept. 15. The annual shotgun season follows in October.
Nebraska: Talk about generous fall turkey dates. You can hunt autumn flocks between Sept. 15 and Jan. 31, 2015. You can use your bow or shotgun. Two fall permits are permitted. As many of you hardcore turkey chasers know, Nebraska has birds. Fall pressure is light.
New Hampshire: The Granite State's archery hunting season for fall turkeys runs concurrent with bow deer. Hunt for 92 days straight, tag providing (Sept. 15-Dec. 15). If things get tough, a 5-day shotgun opportunity is offered Oct. 13-17, 2014. Some 40,000 birds roam the state (see open fall shotgun WMUs); Only 831 were tagged last fall. Like Nebraska, you might have the autumn turkeys all to yourself. Tip: Treestand hunt for whitetails and Thanksgiving dinner.
New Mexico: Hunt with a bow for fall turkeys during the month of September. One negative: According to official sources, turkey populations (estimated at 35,000) are down.
Washington: This fall turkey hunting state has the distinction of offering a "northeast beardless turkey" season from Sept. 20-Oct. 10 (nope, you can't take a bearded bird); you can kill an either-sex turkey though from Sept. 20-Oct. 10 during the "early fall" season. A "late fall" season is also offered. Game Management Units vary for each, so check regulations closely.
Realtree turkey hunting editor Steve Hickoff has chased gobblers all over the United States and Mexico. He was born and raised in northcentral Pennsylvania, and now makes his home in Maine. Hickoff was named the NWTF Tom Kelly Communicator of the Year for 2019, a prestigious award reflecting his longtime work promoting hunting and conservation as a turkey hunting writer, editor and book author.