Turkey Hunting in Texas

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  • B
  • 500,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Rios and Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • "Over one million" (TPWD)

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $25 (hunting license)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $315 (hunting license) plus $126 (spring turkey)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

On the upside, Texas has one heckuva lot of turkeys. Current estimates here in 2022 are at half a million. That's right: 500,000 birds.

On the downside, when it comes to hunting, Texas is a pay-to-hunt place. Or you have to have some well-earned connections, and visit as the guest of other like-minded turkey hunters.

I've done the latter many, many times.

Every one of my turkey-hunting runs down to this great state, be it to the gorgeous blue-bonnet Hill Country, or right down on the Mexico-United States line – with twinkling border-guard headlights off in the distance – has been memorable. I've visited the Alamo. I've eaten well, and had plenty of enjoyable hunts. This includes West Texas and up in the Panhandle, I've chased Texas gobblers on all points of the compass.

No, it doesn't mean I've filled every tag, but not many weren't. Why?

Please refer back to paragraph one at this point. Now check out that big ol' number of turkeys. That's what you have going for you here – if you have connections, or pay for it, or both.

Yes, there’s some public ground – if you consider less than 1 percent of the state’s total landmass being publicly accessible as “some,” but there are some Wildlife Management Areas and federal ground in East Texas that could be worthwhile in the spring.

For the most part, though, residents lease ground, or have a buddy who leases land.

Non-residents typically employ the services of an outfitter, which of course is more expensive than a traditional DIY gobbler hunt, but far less costly than booking a Texas deer hunt.

The good news is the Texas turkey population is coming back after some off-and-on production years. 

Does Oklahoma to the north have more public land to hunt? Yes. Do they have as many turkeys as Texas? Not even close (117,000 Rio Grandes; 19,000 Easterns; some Merriam's even).

But, if you’re booking with a Texas outfitter, do some research, find the money somewhere, and get yourself down there.

And I'm guessing you'll go back the next year, too.

Turkey Hunting in Texas ©GizmoPhoto-Shutterstock

Tag Your Bird Right

High-fives all around. You’ve killed a Texas gobbler. Now pull out your turkey tag. Cut out the month and day you shot the bird with your pocket knife (don't mark it in ink as some states ask; you may get a citation), plus write the location where you did it (WMA, ranch name, wherever) and the county of kill. Then attach the tag to a turkey leg. Now you're legal – even the warden who saw your out-of-state license plates would tell you so.

Changes You Might Have Missed

  • Panola County, where the Eastern not Rio roams, is closed to turkey hunting.
  • Mandatory reporting is required for 2022 spring turkey hunting (April 1–30) in the “Western 1 Gobbler” counties in southcentral Texas.
  • All wild turkeys harvested in Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Milam, and Wharton Counties now have mandatory harvest reporting requirements.

– Steve Hickoff

More Realtree turkey hunting here.