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Top Spots to Hunt Turkeys in Your State

Top Spots to Hunt Turkeys in Your State

spring turkey hunting, where to hunt turkeys, where to go turkey hunting

For some people March means breaking out the shorts and flip flops, but for hardcore hunters like us, this month means breaking out the camo because it's spring turkey hunting time. You've done your research on the best turkey hunting tips and you've bought and patterned your turkey shotgun, so now it's time to find out the best places to hit. Here are your state-by-state forecasts for each of the lower 48:

Alabama

Read the full Alabama Turkey Forecast here.

This year promises plenty of 2-year-old gobblers to hunt in the Cotton State, but an unusually low number of jakes. That's according to Steve Barnett, District V wildlife supervisor and the wild turkey project leader for Alabama's Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. He also provided other information about the Alabama's turkey flock and the best places to hunt on Alabama's public lands.

Arizona

Read the full Arizona Turkey Forecast here.

The best spring Arizona turkey hunting is found in the Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains at elevations between 5,000 and 9,000 feet above sea level. The biggest band of turkey habitat runs from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on the New Mexico border up through the lands of the White Mountain Apaches and the San Carlos, through the Tonto National Forest and the Coconino National Forest through Flagstaff and on up to the Kaibab Plateau. However, turkeys can be found in isolated pockets throughout the state.

Colorado

Read the full Colorado Turkey Forecast here.

Every year, some 15,000 hunters go Colorado turkey hunting in spring. The state is home to about 22,000 birds and the harvest in 2013 was 4,171 birds.

Both the Merriam's and the Rio Grande subspecies can be found here. The Merriam's are primarily located west of Interstate 25 and south of Highway 160 in the southern part of the state, in the Front Range, in the southwest corner and on the Western Slope. Look for Rio Grandes in the bottoms along the Platte and Arkansas rivers.

Delaware

Read the full Delaware Turkey Forecast here.

Delaware turkey hunting stands out from much of the northeast for several reasons. For starters, they've had good production over the last several years and their turkey population is still growing. In fact, hunters experienced record harvests the last two springs and biologists anticipate that trend could continue this year. Delaware is also small enough that there's no great disparity in the distribution of birds. It's often easier to find birds than places to hunt them.

Connecticut

Read the full Connecticut Turkey Forecast here.

Connecticut turkey hunting enthusiasts have a wide variety of options to consider in 2014. State land hunters may shoot two gobblers during the spring season while private land hunters may tag three birds. Approximately 1,500 wild turkeys were taken during the 2013 spring hunt, and state biologists expect a similar harvest in 2014.

Idaho

Read the full Idaho Turkey Forecast here.

Two mile winters in a row and minimal snow pack have helped Idaho's turkey populations grow higher than ever. Although the birds are not native to the state, turkeys were introduced into Idaho in the 1960s and since that time they have established strong breeding populations in many parts of the state. Some of the greatest opportunities for spring Idaho turkey hunting can be found in the Panhandle Region, units 1,2 3, 4, 4A, and 5. This area has one of the highest densities of Merriam's turkeys in the state. In some areas, the birds are becoming a headache to local farmers.

Kansas

Read the full Kansas Turkey Forecast here.

Anyone doing some Kansas turkey hunting this spring would do well to consider the state's walk-in program. The state leases nearly 200,000 acres of private land to allow for public hunting.

'Get an atlas from a license vendor or download it from online. Figure out where you want to hunt and just walk in. You don't have to get additional permission. ' Mike Mitchener is a wildlife section chief for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Massachusetts

Read the full Massachusetts Turkey Forecast here.

Bay State hunters can expect a fairly average season this year. Adult gobblers dominating the 2013 harvest suggests a lower proportion of jakes available last year, which translates to fewer longbeards this spring. However, at around 30,000 birds the statewide population is still robust and should provide plenty ample opportunity.

Maryland

Read the full Maryland Turkey Forecast here.

Maryland sportsmen killed 3,344 birds during the 2013 spring season, as the combination of favorable weather and a good 2011 hatch resulted in a record kill. However, for this season, Free State sportsmen face a classic good news/bad news scenario.

Maine

Read the full Maine Turkey Forecast here.

Pine Tree State turkey biologist Kelsey Sullivan said that the 2014 spring turkey season should be similar to the 2013 season, when some 6,500 birds were harvested. Maine turkey hunting enthusiasts may now use crossbows in addition to shotguns and vertical bows. Season dates are from April 28 through May 31 statewide. In Wildlife Management districts 7 and 9 through 29 (essentially southern Maine) the season bag limits is two bearded birds, while in WMDs 1 through 6 and 8 the bag limit is one gobbler. The Youth Spring Wild Turkey day is April 26.

Montana

Read the full Montana Turkey Forecast here.

Montana's turkey populations were introduced in the 1950's from Colorado and Wyoming, and today good numbers of birds exist in pockets throughout the state. Turkey populations remain constant or are increasing across much of the state, with the highest numbers of birds being taken in the eastern portion of Montana. Two of the state's best turkey areas are the Custer National Forest in the southeastern portion of the state and the wildlife refuges bordering Fort Peck Lake and the Missouri River in the central portion of Montana. After last year's flooding, there were concerns that bird populations in the eastern portion of the state might be down, but According to Drew Henry, wildlife biologist in Region 6 near Glasgow, it appears that the birds have bounced back.

North Dakota

Read the full North Dakota Turkey Forecast here.

North Dakota turkey hunting in spring focuses on Merriam's birds in the West and Eastern birds on the east side. Unlike their neighbor to the south, North Dakota doesn't allow nonresidents to hunt turkeys. Last year's harvest was 4,534 birds. Hunter success in the last few years has run a bit less than 45 percent in the spring hunt.

Nebraska

Read the full Nebraska Turkey Forecast here.

Spring Nebraska turkey hunting allows the pursuit of Merriam's, Rio Grande and Eastern birds. In fact, a hunter can take three birds here in the spring season, with a good chance to bag one of each subspecies. The state ranks as one of the top turkey destinations with a harvest that averages more than 21,000 birds per season. Harvest in 2012 was 21,419 birds and in 2013 was even better at 21,442.

New Hampshire

Read the full New Hampshire Turkey Forecast here.

Granite State spring wild turkey hunters tagged over 4,000 birds in 2013. Turkeys may be found statewide but are most abundant in areas where hardwood ridges border open fields, farmlands and upland areas.

New Jersey

Read the full New Jersey Turkey Forecast here.

For New Jersey turkey hunting, there has seen some long-term declines in the population, particularly in traditionally strong northern counties. Similar to much of the northeast, last year's hatch and brood-rearing were off as well, meaning fewer jakes. However, 2012 was better, which means there's still a decent crop of two year old longbeards.

New Mexico

Read the full New Mexico Turkey Forecast here.

Those New Mexico turkey hunting in spring should know there are three subspecies: Rio Grandes, Merriam's and Gould's. 'We have them in the Bosque, in the mountains, out on the plains. Many of our public lands have really good populations. ' Lance Cherry is the assistant chief of information for the office of New Mexico Wildlife. Overall, the state is home to about 35,000 turkeys.

Nevada

Read the full Nevada Turkey Forecast here.

Spring Nevada turkey hunting is still fairly new. According to public information officer Chris Healy, the vast majority of the state's gobblers are Rio Grandes, while there are a few Merriam's in eastern Nevada.

'We have been attempting to establish them since right after World War II, ' Healy said, 'and have had our best success with the Rio Grandes in the last 25 years. '

New York

Read the full New York Turkey Forecast here.

There have been some changes in figures for New York turkey hunting such as population and harvest figures for spring. Here's a look at what Empire State turkey hunters can expect when they hit the woods this month.

Oregon

Read the full Oregon Turkey Forecast here.

Like much of the Northwest, the primary Oregon turkey hunting areas have experienced a relatively mild winter snowfall in 2013 and it is likely that 2014 will be an excellent season, with high brood survival rates.

Rhode Island

Read the full Rhode Island Turkey Forecast here.

Rhode Island turkey hunting enthusiasts killed 153 bearded birds in 2013. This tally was up sharply from the 2012 total of 104 but considerably below some harvests earlier this century when 200-plus toms were regularly killed.

Poult production was very unsatisfactory in 2012, which means that there well may be a lack of 2-year-old toms this spring. All hens observed in 2013 had offspring, meaning plenty of jakes should be prowling the state's woodlots in April and May of 2014.

South Dakota

Read the full South Dakota Turkey Forecast here.

Spring turkey hunters in South Dakota bagged 7,631 gobblers last season, down from 13,300 the year before. Hunter success this year is likely to be at or slightly below the levels of the 2013 season.

Merriam's turkeys are indigenous to South Dakota, but Rios and Easterns can be found there as well. Residents and nonresidents are eligible for the controlled spring prairie turkey season which is determined by a drawing held in mid-February. Residents can hunt in all units, while nonresidents are welcome to hunt all units west of the Missouri River.

Utah

Read the full Utah Turkey Forecast here.

Utah turkey hunting in spring begins with a limited entry hunt that takes place in all five of the state's game regions. This early season is run by a lottery and applications are taken through December 27. The southern region offers the most permits, which is an indicator of the area that holds the most birds.

Vermont

Read the full Vermont Turkey Forecast here.

Hunters heading out for Vermont turkey hunting can only hope for another year like 2013.

'Total annual harvest for 2013 was a record 6,970 birds broken up as follows: youth weekend 782, spring 5,580, and fall 608, ' said Amy Alfieri, state turkey biologist. The spring tally was itself a record as well with 6,362 birds checked in. The 2013 spring total was up sharply from the 2012 tally of 4,713. The poults per hen ratio in 2013 and 2012 was 3.09 and 3.48, respectively, which means solid numbers of both 2-year-old and jakes should be present this spring.

Washington

Read the full Washington Turkey Forecast here.

Like much of the Northwest, the primary Washington turkey hunting areas have experienced a relatively mild winter snowfall in 2013 and it is likely that 2014 will be an excellent season, with high brood survival rates. Washington's turkey populations exist in pockets in areas where there is sufficient food and rainfall to support their populations.

Wyoming

Read the full Wyoming Turkey Forecast here.

Wyoming turkey hunting in spring starts as early as April 1 in some parts of the state. As in other regions of the West, Wyoming has seen less than her share of precipitation lately. However, last year's turkey hatch was fair to very good in most of the state. For turkeys, the downside of drought is in sparse cover which opens nests and poults to predation.

Arkansas

Read the full Arkansas Turkey Forecast here.

Weather wreaked havoc on last years spring turkey hunting. Many of us remember the very early and mild spring of 2012. Several hunters reported that they spotted hens with poults in late spring while turkey hunting! Mild weather most certainly was not the case in 2013. In fact, John and I had to rush our photo shoot of him and the turkey because one shower had just ended and another was about to begin.

California

Read the full California Turkey Forecast here.

Spring California turkey hunting in 2013 was good for a large number of hunters, including me. In fact, one of my most memorable hunts ever took place on the last Saturday in March, which was opening day of the general season.

Florida

Read the full Florida Turkey Forecast here.

Although we can't say that we're crawling with gobblers for folks going Florida turkey hunting, the Sunshine State does have a nice population of birds, and hunters have a decent shot at getting a gobbler some time during the season.

Roger Shields is the state turkey program coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He said that the past two nesting seasons haven't been the best that Florida has seen.

Georgia

Read the full Georgia Turkey Forecast here.

The spring Georgia turkey hunting season begins March 22 and 60,000 hunters will be out in the woodlands listening and looking for their spring gobbler. Some will be successful and others will go home empty-handed. Whether you score or not depends largely on your skill as a hunter and caller, and where you are hunting.

Iowa

Read the full Iowa Turkey Forecast here.

Through Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) trap-and-transfer efforts followed by strong natural reproduction, turkeys have filled suitable habitat across much of the state. The adaptable birds surprised many experts by thriving even in intensively farmed northern Iowa, where timbers are often small and isolated.

Illinois

Read the full Illinois Turkey Forecast here.

Weather wreaked havoc on last years spring Illinois turkey hunting. Many of us remember the very early and mild spring of 2012. Several hunters reported that they spotted hens with poults in late spring while turkey hunting! Mild weather most certainly was not the case in 2013. In fact, John and I had to rush our photo shoot of him and the turkey because one shower had just ended and another was about to begin.

Indiana

Read the full Indiana Turkey Forecast here.

I can still remember opening day of the 2013 spring Indiana turkey hunting season. It rained all morning in Spencer County. My wife, Vikki, and I were not fortunate enough to hear any gobbling, but we did see a few jakes — somewhat of an unfamiliar sight.

Kentucky

Read the full Kentucky Turkey Forecast here.

The ground shakes as a longbeard sounds his thunder. Steam flows from the mouth of the gobbler and rises in the cool, frosty air. The adrenaline courses through your veins as the bird goes into full strut. He takes a few more stiff-legged steps toward your setup. You click the safety as he stretches out his neck. A pull of the trigger has another Bluegrass gobbler falling. It's the kind of action all Kentucky turkey hunting enthusiasts hope for this year. So how likely are we to experience that thrill in 2014? Let's have a look.

Louisiana

Read the full Louisiana Turkey Forecast here.

According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, 2012's hatch was very good, and turkey populations around the state are on the upswing. The Louisiana turkey hunting situation is similar.

Luke Lewis is the regional wildlife biologist for the NWTF in Louisiana. He said the situation in Louisiana is somewhat different from that in Mississippi.

Minnesota

Read the full Minnesota Turkey Forecast here.

Despite some uncooperative weather throughout 2013's spring turkey hunts, Minnesota turkey hunting enthusiasts ended up with a pretty good report card between thunder-snow, blizzard-rain, gale-force winds, arctic cold and late leaf-out.

Mississippi

Read the full Mississippi Turkey Forecast here.

Brandon Bobo is the NWTF regional wildlife biologist for Mississippi. He said the turkey population in Mississippi has been trending down for the last several years.

'We have a very healthy population, ' he said. 'Since the year 2000, it's been higher than historical levels. But in recent years it has been trending down. '

North Carolina

Read the full North Carolina Turkey Forecast here.

If you're looking to do some North Carolina turkey hunting this spring, this is your one-stop shop for population numbers, harvest info, and hunting opportunities.

Ohio

Read the full Ohio Turkey Forecast here.

High numbers of birds in recent years, as reflected in the 2013 spring harvest increase, followed by favorable nesting conditions mean there will be plenty of birds to challenge when the season opens this month. Here's where to go Ohio turkey hunting on public land in 2014.

Last year's successful spring turkey-hunting season in Ohio bodes well for hunters seeking a trophy tom in 2014. More than 18,000 bearded turkeys were taken during the spring 2013 hunt, with increases shown in 50 counties.

Oklahoma

Read the full Oklahoma Turkey Forecast here.

Thinking about the opening morning of the spring Pennsylvania turkey hunting season is the only thing keeping some hunters' toes warm by the time that day draws near. If any day in Pennsylvania rivals the opening day of firearms deer season, or the opening day of trout season, it is the opening day of spring gobbler season. That it happens at a beautiful time of the year just adds to the pleasure.

Pennsylvania

Read the full Pennsylvania Turkey Forecast here.

Thinking about the opening morning of the spring Pennsylvania turkey hunting season is the only thing keeping some hunters' toes warm by the time that day draws near. If any day in Pennsylvania rivals the opening day of firearms deer season, or the opening day of trout season, it is the opening day of spring gobbler season. That it happens at a beautiful time of the year just adds to the pleasure.

South Carolina

Read the full South Carolina Turkey Forecast here.

Sometimes it would be nice if numbers and statistics lied and didn't add up to the truth. But for people going South Carolina turkey hunting in 2014, that's just not likely going to be the case: The numbers don't add up to paint a pretty picture of this season's likely harvest. The fact is the turkey harvest in 2013 dropped noticeably from 2012 and, according to Charles Ruth, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Deer and Turkey Project Supervisor, the odds are stacked against turkey hunters again in 2014.

Tennessee

Read the full Tennessee Turkey Forecast here.

Great turkey hunting exists across Tennessee and it is not just limited to private lands. There are some excellent public hunting areas that hold healthy turkey populations, which definitely increase the odds of bagging a bird. Let's take a look at some of the best counties and WMAs in the state in terms of last spring's harvest records.

Virginia

Read the full Virginia Turkey Forecast here.

Given all the turkeys I encountered this past spring in Southwest Virginia, I'm not surprised that the 2013 harvest was a record one of 19,265. The tally easily bested the previous high of 18,345 set in 2002 and was 26 percent higher than the 2012 total of 15,326. Regarding regions, East of the Blue Ridge sportsmen checked in 12,994 for an uptick of 23 percent. West of the Blue Ridge, hunters recorded 6,271, a boom of 31 percent.

Wisconsin

Read the full Wisconsin Turkey Forecast here.

Turkey restoration in the Badger State began in 1976, and less than a decade later we held our first spring hunt. In the 30 years since that first season, wild turkeys have spread throughout the state and hunting opportunities have continued to increase. Today, Wisconsin stands among the top turkey states in terms of population numbers and stability, hunting opportunities, total harvest and hunter success rates.

West Virginia

Read the full West Virginia Turkey Forecast here.

If you're looking to do some West Virginia turkey hunting this spring, this is your one-stop shop for population numbers, harvest info, and hunting opportunities.

Texas

Read the full Texas Turkey Forecast here.

Calling up a long-bearded gobbler during the spring Texas turkey hunting season is just about as close as a hunter is going to get to channeling his inner cave man.

Sure, you can bust a lot of caps early in the dove season most years, and sooner or later, a nice buck is bound to come to corn or respond to rattling, but there's absolutely nothing that compares to pitting your hunting skills against a wily tom when the wildflowers are blooming and love is in the air for the big birds. If you can bag a strutting gobbler that you've managed to lure within range solely on the basis of your ability to talk turkey, you are a sure 'nuff hunter. Put simply, spring turkey hunting is a challenge.

Missouri

Read the full Missouri Turkey Forecast here.

It was the first day of the second week of the spring 2013 Missouri turkey hunting season. The morning hours were waning and my old knees were aching from walking so much while trying to locate a gobbler.

Michigan

Read the full Michigan Turkey Forecast here.

Spring is here and now is the time to get out and scout for longbeards. The good news is Michigan's turkey population is pretty strong. 'We have a wild turkey population of about 200,000 birds, ' said Al Stewart, the upland game bird specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. 'Most years, the harvest exceeds 30,000 toms. That is a good number of birds being harvested. Our success rate is about 38 percent. Many hunters in our area head to the woods and many of them tag a bird. '

Now all you need is a mouth-watering wild turkey recipe for when you bring the bird home. And don't forget to snap a photo of your gobbler and share it with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!

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