As the frost rimmed windows of February slowly diminish across the lower 48 giving life to the spring awakening, my thoughts instantly migrate from ice fishing and skiing to one of my true passions of chasing spring gobblers! Is this the year I take one step closer to completing my “slam” or do I go back to the haunts where they simply kicked my butt last season and settle the score? Weather you have that same passion burning inside or simply want to get out and take part in this springtime ritual, here are the top 5 states I would focus on when chasing these springtime dancing devils!
1. Kansas Rio’s
Definitely the most vocal of all subspecies due to the open terrain in which they live. Kansas boasts some of the highest success rates of harvest due to the sheer number of birds in the state. Due to the rolling terrain, many times these hunts are done from ground blinds waiting for the birds to carry out their daily pattern. A common mistake that hunters make is getting out on foot and trying to cut these birds off and many times get busted by the birds because one thing turkey’s have is great vision. Be patient and smart and success will come your way! This destination is one of our best when it comes to chasing Rio’s.
2. Kentucky Eastern
Easterns are located in the heart of the US. Some say they are one of the most challenging simply because the day you think you have the pattern figured out; they change the script on you. The diverse farm ground, big hardwoods and river bottoms of the Midwest give these birds lots of options to give the hunter “the slip” each and every morning. They tend to be the biggest of all turkeys with weights that can exceed 25+ lbs but putting one of these big guys on the ground will challenge any hunter. Here is a great destination that seems to have this game figured out.
3. Florida Osceola
Top of the podium stands the Osceola as the most challenging turkeys to harvest. Only found on the peninsula of Florida, these buggers just don’t do much gobbling and the thick underbrush of this tropical environment really locks that jaw up tight once they come off the roost! They do however desire open spaces where they can put their eyes to work watching for predators, so field edges are a great set up. They are a smaller looking version of an Eastern, but sport the longest spurs of all subspecies, true “limb hangers.” If you’re up to the challenge, here is a great outfitter that has a tremendous population and lots of great ground.
4. New Mexico Merriam
Definitely one of the most spectacular looking of all the turkey species with the white butt and fan tips. The Merriam is the mountain bird of the west. Known as a “habitual wanderer,” they tend to hit the ground and keep moving. They are not as consistent as others when it comes to roosting, they simply cover ground throughout the day and jump in the tree when it’s time to go to bed. The country in which they inhabit is truly awesome in the spring and a must-do for anyone who has the passion of chasing turkeys. Check out this outfitter who does it right.
5. South Mexico Ocellated
Hands down the biggest adventure in the turkey hunting world! Only found deep in the jungle of southern Mexico, this one is for the adventure seeker. They put a couple extra boxes on the podium of looks when finding a spot for this bird to be placed. Spectacular colors fill the body of this jungle gem and these looks combined with the adventure factor, place this hunt at the pinnacle of cool for the adventure traveler. Many other unique species of jungle birds can be taken on this adventure and the outfitter below does a great job of simply caring for each and every traveler that endeavors to make this adventure a reality!
If you’re one of those “turkey nuts” like me who seeks adventure when chasing these birds and are fortunate enough to harvest a bird in each of these locations, give WTA a call one last time and we’ll arrange a Gould’s turkey hunt in the Sierra Madre Mountains of north central Mexico and you’ll have completed your “World Slam” of turkeys!