Turkey Hunting in Alabama

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  • A
  • 400,000-500,000 (estimates vary)

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Eastern

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 609,156

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $26.20

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $131.65 - $301.85

    $131.65 (3-day); $186.50 (10-Day); $301.85 (annual)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

One memorable visit to an Alabama turkey camp for me involved tough wild turkeys, good food, great people, and a lodge with famous football coaches framed on the wall, including the late, great Bear Bryant.

He'd visited there many years ago. Pretty cool if you ask me.

But hey, this post is about turkey hunting . . .

Alabama leads the nation in turkey populations (Texas is right up there, too), with 500,000 birds traditionally estimated to roam the Yellowhammer State. In recent years, though, 'Bama's numbers have been adjusted by some to a conservative 400,000. That's still a lot of turkeys.

A decline in populations? Maybe. While spring hunters have historically taken up to 60,000 or more birds some years, this dropped to just 40,000 in recent seasons. To better manage the resource, a game harvest menu is now in place.

About 76 percent of the state (22.7 million acres in all) is timbered, providing endless habitat for the wild turkey.

If there's drawback to turkey hunting in Alabama, it's that the birds are as hard-hunted and cagey as you will find anywhere. You probably won't just step out and shoot a gobbler here.

And nonresident hunting licenses might be too expensive for some, though the 3-day option is fairly affordable.

On a personal note, my memories of turkey hunting this state include shut-mouthed gobblers, birds that spit-and-drum to your calls when they're right on top of your position. Kill a turkey in 'Bama and you've done something.

These are Eastern turkeys at their wariest and most stubborn, and the hunting is never easy. That's okay for many hardcore traditionalists.

But bag limits are as generous as they come.

You can shoot one bird a day, and up to five combined for the spring and fall seasons. Mind you, again, few hunters have the skill or time to shoot that many Alabama birds – they're just too tough – but it does let you keep hunting if you fill a tag.

Public-land opportunities are fair in Alabama, with more than 760,000 acres spread across 37 Wildlife Management Areas; extensive National Forests in the Bankhead, Conecah, Talladega and Tuskegee; and timber-company lands.

Alabama is home to many fine hunting lodges as well, and that's a big plus if you're willing to pay.

Decoys? You can't use them in the fall, but it's legal during spring turkey season. Autumn turkey hunts are limited to the counties of Clarke, Clay, Covington, Monroe, Randolph and Talladega.

Turkey Hunting in Alabama (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

Fun Fact: The turkey-hunting world's most well-known book author, Colonel Tom Kelly, hails from Alabama.

– Steve Hickoff 

2020 Alabama Turkey Hunting Regulations

Go here for Realtree Turkey Hunting.