Turkey Road Trips

By Brian Lovett

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hunter standing behind a dead turkey on the ground

Many spring turkey hunters have the traveling bug, hitting the road annually to add new subspecies to their Grand Slam lists or simply stretch the season. Being a road warrior is easier nowadays, thanks to online maps and apps that let you scout from afar and acquire licenses on the fly. But that leads to a conundrum. With spring turkey seasons in 49 states and so many possibilities from coast to coast, how do you pinpoint a destination to put boots on the ground and run some calls? These trip ideas might give you a head start.

New England Swing

Late-season trips to the far Northeast have gained popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Most New England states have thriving turkey populations, and their seasons typically run later than spring campaigns in the South and Midwest.

With some planning and a few tanks of gas, you can easily hunt multiple New England states during a weeklong trip. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are good starting points.

Much of Vermont features a good mix of productive turkey habitat, including about 134,000 acres of wildlife management areas. Chris Bernier, wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, says 2021 was a below-average year for brood production, so there might not be as many 2-year-old gobblers on the landscape in 2023. However, he adds, overall numbers remain good, and hunters should have no problem finding turkeys. The season runs May 1 through 31.

hunter looking at a turkey hanging on a fence

New Hampshire offers excellent turkey hunting opportunities, including hundreds of state forests, wildlife management, parks and other tracts open to hunting. The southern third of the state has the best habitat and annual harvest numbers.

“The remaining … dairy farms in the state are good bets to have turkeys because of the summer brood habitat and winter foods,” Ted Walski, former turkey project biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, says. “Towns bordering the Connecticut River and Vermont—in Cheshire, Sullivan and Grafton counties—are good bets because of the farm land.” The season runs May 1 through 31.

Maine has become a hot destination lately because its spring season runs into early June (May 1 through June 3 in 2023). Moreover, the southern and central portions of the state have robust turkey populations, and finding access isn’t difficult.

“Take the time to knock on a few doors, and you will find 90 percent of landowners are amenable to turkey hunters on their property,” says Kelsey M. Sullivan, wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s migratory and upland gamebird program.

Way Out West

If wide-open spaces and birds with white or buff tailfeathers strike your fancy, head west. You might try a somewhat offbeat combo hunt: the big-sky country of Montana and the rugged terrain of Idaho.

hills landscape

Montana features mostly Merriam’s, though it has some Easterns and hybrids in the northwestern portion of the state. Turkey numbers in southeastern Montana have been fairly stable despite drought conditions the past few years.

Justin Hughes, upland-game-bird habitat specialist for Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks in Region 7, said hunters should seek riparian areas with adequate roosting trees and nesting habitat. “Turkeys prefer the grocery store as close to the bedroom as they can get it,” he said. The season runs April 15 through May 31.

Farther west, Idaho offers surprisingly good turkey hunting opportunities. Some folks describe the state as having Merriam’s along with some Easterns and Rio Grandes. However, Jeffrey M. Knetter, upland-game and migratory gamebird coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, says that because of mixing and trap-and-transplant efforts, there are likely no pure subspecies in the state. He refers to birds there as “Idaho mountain turkeys.”

Knetter says the Panhandle and Clearwater regions are typically best for turkeys. The state has abundant public land, and the season typically runs from early April into late May.

Midwest Moves

The Upper Midwest also attracts many late-season traveling hunters, as many states—notably Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan—maintain outstanding turkey populations, offer leftover or over-the-counter tags and hold seasons that run late. Michigan might be the unsung hero of that trio, as the season runs from mid-April through early June.

hunter looking down the sites of a shotgun

Bird numbers remain solid throughout Michigan’s turkey range. Allegan County is typically a top area to hunt. The Allegan State Game Area covers more than 50,000 acres and holds excellent turkey numbers. Other good counties include Montcalm, Jackson and Barry.

“Michigan is one of the top turkey hunting states in the country and is valued as having some of the highest quality turkey hunting in the nation,” says Al Stewart, former upland gamebird specialist and program leader with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “There are 10 million acres of land open to public hunting, which is more than any state east of the Mississippi River.”


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