Break those walking boots in and add some of these states to your life list this season
Truth is, Western states hold some of the most beautiful, rugged terrain you’ll ever haul your turkey hunting butt up. And if you like to walk far and long like those turkeys, this region is the place for you.
These wild, nomadic birds cover miles each day, roosting where they please, wayfaring travelers in big mountain flocks.
Multiple tags for these turkeys are available in many states: some where you can just tap your phone, print your license somewhere and go; some fueled by the excitement of a lottery draw.
Like many of you, I love turkey hunting out West. And here’s why.
Some of the best wild turkey hunting in California is found in the Central Coast’s wine country. And if that’s not a win-win, I don’t know what is.
Ducks, sure, I’ve hunted Great Salt Lake waterfowl, too, whiffing on the most gorgeous bull sprig I’ll likely ever see. But I also saw wide-ranging turkey flocks in this sleeper state that’s just waking up to what our grand tradition can be.
Colorado turkey hunting regulations will make you feel like you’re taking a college entrance exam again, but hey, that’s because the options are many for the turkey hunter in pursuit of mountain Merriam’s birds.
As with a number of these Western states, turkeys were not native to the region but introduced during the nationwide conservation effort during the late, great twentieth century. As with Utah, Oregon is a bit of a sleeper state as turkey hunting goes. And success rates are high as a result.
With some effort, you can hunt three wild turkey subspecies here, and as in Oregon, transplanted turkeys arrived many years ago (1960 for Washington; 1961 for Oregon). You’ll find plenty of birds to hunt now.
It used to be you could only hunt those rugged Idaho mountains for one bird. But now two tags are available, an indication of solid flock numbers (in contrast to some regions like our Southeast where declining bird numbers are the talk).
Fly into Rapid City, South Dakota, rent a vehicle and motor west for some of the best turkey hunting Wyoming has to offer, in and around the historic landmark Devils Tower (no apostrophe, you punctuation hounds). You won’t be alone, but there’s plenty of room to roam.
As of 2022, an ambitious turkey hunter may hold up to 12 wild turkey licenses per year in this state, travel providing. No joke! Some options are limited to specific regions and counties, so read those regulations carefully.
Some hardcore turkey hunters don’t really care for sunning and sipping cool drinks with umbrellas in them. But don’t let the traditional view of Hawaii deter you. Several of my contacts have chased turkeys in high-elevation snowfall and biting cold.
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.