Turkey Hunting in Wyoming

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  • B
  • 15,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Merriam’s, Rio Grande, hybrids of both

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 5,500

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (see regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (see regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Wyoming turkey hunting surely feels like a big-game experience, if only for the rugged landscape you cover, and wildlife you might see along the way, in addition to the big birds you’re chasing.

I’ve visited the state numerous times, and if one thing is true, it’s the unpredictable nature of Wyoming’s weather patterns. Choose your gear wisely, especially cold-weather apparel — even in spring when snow is fairly common.

Once, after hauling a trailered four-wheeler as far as we could on muddy roads, we piled into that unit, went even farther, deployed, hiked a mountain on a skinny game trail, viewed distant purple clouds, heard thunder as it snowed, then moved down the steep incline toward a shock-gobbling turkey.

Eventually, I watched as the big strutter moved through falling snow toward the calls and my shotgun setup. What a beautiful memory I still relive now and again.

Other times we’ve seen mountain lion tracks on our back trail, multiple strutters with dozens of hens nearby, and additional encounters in this Western location.

Some History and Where to Go

Historically, Wyoming wild turkeys were first trapped and transferred from New Mexico to the state in 1935.

Although Cowboy State turkeys are not distributed on the vast amount of public ground other Western states provide, it does offer decent success rates for local and traveling turkey hunters alike.

I’ve filled turkey tags on each visit but one, and the skunking included five days of wind-driven rain and bone-chilling temperatures. At least the lodge food was delicious.

Annually, roughly 5,500 turkey hunters head to the woods each spring. The typical nonresident hunter success is about 70% in many areas, and about 40% to 50% for residents.

As I write this in early 2022, Wyoming's most recent spring harvest data (2020 season) sits at 3,250 birds.

Like many states, Wyoming also offers numerous walk-in areas, namely private ground that offers public lease hunting rights. Properties in 14 counties provide this access and are often prime locations. 

One of the most popular areas to hunt the Merriam’s wild turkey is the Black Hills region, which borders Montana and South Dakota to the north and east. That said, this is perhaps the only region of the country where this subspecies can be hunted in three different states in such close proximity to one another. 

Devils Tower is a well-known landmark you may pass on your way to turkey hunt. It’s not uncommon to see fellow turkey hunters, with their tagged birds, posing with this as a backdrop. I’ve done it myself a time or two.

The famed Black Hills in the northeast corner of the state is no doubt the best location for the public-land hunter, followed by the Laramie Peaks region, which is located in parts of Converse, Platte, and Albany counties.

Although the Laramie region doesn’t have the public-land opportunities, the Black Hills do. There’s enough national forest, BLM, and walk-in access to keep you sleeping well at night. 

— Steve Hickoff

Turkey hunting in Wyoming. Image by John Hafner

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