Top 5 Turkey Hunting States


Spring is upon us! Chirping birds now compliment the early morning cup of coffee, fresh scented rains wash away winter’s paleness, temperatures begin to warm, and best of all, the rising sun acts as an orchestra conductor, sounding off thunderous toms and yelping hens! Ahhh, another hunting season has arrived.

The restoration of wild turkey populations across the country is one of the greatest feats of modern conservation. They currently exist in all 50 states, yup, you can actually book a turkey hunt while vacationing in Hawaii! While so many states offer great turkey hunting opportunities, I set out to ask some of the leaders in the field to give me a list of their Top 5 Turkey Hunting States. The results were clear, and they indicate the abundance of turkeys throughout the U.S., as 18 separate states were listed out of a possible 30 different choices from the six “seasoned” turkey hunters. Take a look and see how your state faired. However, don’t be discouraged if it’s not listed, it’s probably just because they haven’t hunted there yet.

The Top 5 Turkey Hunting Destinations:

  1. Florida – Having the earliest season in the U.S. and only place to chase Osceolas, it’s no surprise that Florida stood apart as a must-hunt destination on 5 out of the 6 hunters’ lists.
  2. MissouriThe heart of the Eastern Turkey range and source of many transplanted birds that contributed to population restoration success across many states, especially in the Great Lakes Region. The abundant population and generous two bird limit ranked Missouri high on 3 out of the 6 lists.
  3. KansasIt’s as good of a turkey hunting state as it is a deer hunting state. Kansas offers the chance to chase 3 subspecies within state lines: Easterns, Hybrids, and Rios…no wonder it ranked within the Top 5 on 3 out of the 6 hunter’s lists.
  4. NebraskaA premiere destination to chase Merriams’ and Hybrids. Tags are over-the-counter for residents and non-residents alike, and they offer a special early archery season, which put Nebraska in the Top 5 on 3 out of the 6 hunters’ lists.
  5. South DakotaNarrowly edging out Kentucky for the final spot in the Top 5, South Dakota’s strong Merriam’s population makes it a popular destination for those chasing a grand slam. The diverse landscape and multiple subspecies allowed South Dakota to crack the Top 5 on 2 out of the 6 hunter’s lists.
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Below you can see how the pro’s ranked their favorite turkey hunting states.

Aaron Warbritton – The Hunting Public

  1. Missouri – There’s something special about hunting on your family farm that’s been around for 3+ generations. It may not always be the best turkey hunting, but it’s certainly where I enjoy hunting the most. I took my first deer and turkey off this property and it’s where I get to spend a lot of time hunting with my family and friends. Nowadays, taking youth hunters out is by far my favorite way to experience the hunt.

Rounding out his Top 5:

Follow The Hunting Public Crew on YouTube for daily updates as they’ve kicked off their Public Land Turkey Tour in Alabama this week!

Pat Reeves – Driven with Pat and Nicole

  1. MinnesotaOur favorite Turkey State is Minnesota. The reason I love it so much is because I have a true vested interest and love for the reintroduction of the wild turkey back into Minnesota. Back in the way early days before I started my filming career, I worked for the Minnesota Department of Natural Recourses as a Turkey Trapper. For several years I helped spread turkeys throughout Minnesota and even around the current area we live and hunt. Thus, I take great pride in knowing that I have helped reintroduce a true success story in Minnesota and other sportsman can enjoy the same passion. Every time I hear that early morning first gobble I think back to those early days sitting in the blind waiting for turkeys to show up so we could rocket net them and relocate them to their new home in different parts of Minnesota.I also love my home state because it’s a place I can take my kids and the state has made it easy for kids to get a license without any costs. I also feel that my success in my home state is reflected on how easy it is to scout and locate turkeys and turkey sign before the hunt starts.
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Rounding out his Top 5:

CJ Davis – Montana Decoy Company

  1. South Carolina – It’s my home state and where I learned to turkey hunt, killed my first and will always be special to me. I love hunting the pines and hardwood bottoms. The turkeys are tough, but you learn to become a better turkey hunter. I love the challenge.

Rounding out his Top 5:

Dr. Grant Woods –

  1. MissouriMissouri is my favorite state – LOTS of public land with LOTS of turkeys! Missouri turkeys respond well to calls and you can find places where they aren’t pressured. Great springtime fishing also! One negative to MO is that you can only hunt until 1pm in the afternoons.

Rounding out his Top 5:

Josh Dahlke – ScoutLook

  1. NebraskaThe Cornhusker State offers a variety of habitat and terrain types for the adventurous traveling turkey hunter. From the magical Pine Ridge on the west side of the state, to the Missouri River on the eastern border, hunters have much to experience in Nebraska. Turkey numbers are high and you’ll find thriving populations of the handsome Merriam’s subspecies in the northwest, along with beautiful hybrids spread throughout most of the state. Tags are over the counter for residents and nonresidents in the state of Nebraska, and hunters can kill up to three birds, making it a rich destination for savvy turkey friends who want to kill multiple birds during one trip. An early archery season starts in late March, which is a great opportunity for avid bowhunters who can’t wait until mid-April to go after gobblers. For even earlier hunting, look to the Winnebago Indian Reservation on the east side of the state. All things considered, Nebraska is a tough state to beat when it comes to chasing spring strutters.
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Rounding out his Top 5:

Adam Keith – Land & Legacy

  1. MissouriThere aren’t many things I find more exciting than chasing big ol’ Easterns in my home state. With Missouri having one of the highest populations of turkeys in the nation, a two bird limit, and a 3 week season, it’s a “must-hunt” state for any turkey hunter!

Rounding out his Top 5:

  • Kentucky
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>