Top 5 Merriam's Turkey Hunting States

By author of Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

Where to Go for Your Western Bird

Some turkey hunters say Merriam's are easy. Not in my experience. Spring snows are often factors. High altitude. Dangerous cats. Birds that walk miles from the roost. Steep mountain climbs up skinny elk and deer trails. You earn it.

Oh, you can arrange for easy hunts. Chip shots. Outfitters, eager to please, can put you in a sure-kill spot where human-habituated birds visit on the clock. That's cool. That's fine. It all depends on what you want from a Western hunt.

And yeah, they both taste great fried. Five of the best Merriam's states follow here.


WyomingMontanaSouth DakotaNew MexicoColorado

1 | Wyoming

Ask most turkey hunters where they should go for Merriam's and the answer is often "Wyoming." Historically, as the Wyoming Game and Fish Department indicates: "Wild turkeys were originally introduced to Wyoming in 1935 when New Mexico traded nine hens and six toms to Wyoming in exchange for sage-grouse. The initial release site was near Cottonwood Creek in western Platte County." Want to find them now? Go here for more Wyoming turkey hunting.

(John Hafner photo)

2 | Montana

As with Wyoming, Montana transplanted Merriam's wild turkeys to this state. Here's the inside word from the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department

"Montana falls outside the wild turkey's ancestral range and it is not native to Montana. When the [then] Montana Department of Fish and Game decided to introduce turkeys into Montana, it selected the Merriam's as the best choice to achieve success. In 1954, department biologists introduced 13 Colorado birds into the Judith Mountains of central Montana. A second release was made in 1955 when 18 turkeys from Wyoming were released into the Long Pines area of southeastern Montana. Wyoming stock was also used in the Ashland area of southeastern Montana in 1956 and 1957 when 26 birds were released. This marked the last time stock from outside Montana was transplanted. Subsequent trapping and relocating distributed turkeys through numerous sites in Montana."

Go here for more Montana turkey hunting.

(John Hafner photo)


3 | South Dakota

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks offers licenses specifically designated for the prairie units, the Black Hills, Custer State Park plus an archery season. Rapid City is often your flight destination and surely friendly to turkey hunters. This location offers easy access to these hunting locations. Go here for more South Dakota turkey hunting.

(John Hafner photo)

4 | New Mexico

New Mexico has more Merriam's than any other subspecies. Rio Grande gobblers and even Gould's also roam here. The hunter pressure is low. Only 1,900 some birds were taken last season. Kind of a sleeper state with an estimated population of over 15,000 turkeys.

Go here for more New Mexico turkey hunting.

(John Hafner photo)

5 | Colorado

Colorado Parks & Wildlife says Merriam's population estimates are around 27,000 birds. Roughly 3,500 Rio Grande turkeys live here as well. Go here for turkey hunting in Colorado. And 2019 season dates.

Got another favorite Merriam's state to add here? Comment below.

(John Hafner photo)

What's your favorite Merriam's turkey hunting state? Please comment below.

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Editor's note: This post was first published April 14, 2017 and updated.