Big, hard-gobbling birds await you in our nation’s midsection, but not all states are created equally
Some of my most vest-popping, sharp-spurred, top-of-the-charts-turkey-trophy-registry-had-I-bothered birds have been taken in the Midwestern region over the years. After all, it’s our nation’s heartland of turkey hunting. That said, some states deter nonresidents to an extent, or at least charge you handily for the privilege of chasing those birds.
And why not? Conservation costs money.
Turkey hunting North Dakota can be a challenge for nonresidents.
Fact is, in the spring it’s technically open only to residents. A lottery system in place for folks living there is distinguished by a specific number of turkey licenses per designated unit.
Nonresidents can hunt fall turkeys, so there’s that to think about as an option. That said, there is one other possibility for visitors interested in spring gobblers ...
Of the two Dakotas, this is the one you want to target as a turkey hunter.
South Dakota turkey hunting takes place in several regions. You have the famous Black Hills to the west, which cover over 2.3 million acres, three-quarters of which is public (mostly U.S. Forest Service land) and open for hunting. And the prairie, where birds roam landscapes with minimally forested habitat, and grasslands.
Nebraska is easily one of my favorite all-time turkey states, and I’m not alone. Though the land access is mostly private, it’s still possible to knock on doors and get hunting permissions here. Quite a few landowners want turkeys gone. As evidenced by my lead story here …
As with other states, particularly with northern places like Minnesota, the wild turkey’s expansion beyond its original range is a wildlife management success story. But it hasn’t been easy establishing turkeys in this state bordering Canada.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says with rapidly increasing turkey populations and harvests, the state’s bird numbers now seem to be stabilizing at levels suitable to the available landscape habitat. And some landowners will let you hunt their turkeys — just don’t ask about their deer.
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.