Turkeys usually conjure images of colorful leaves and crisp fall days, but with the arrival of spring comes the start of turkey hunting in Maryland. Spring turkey season begins April 18, 2018 and lasts through May 23rd, with a special youth turkey season scheduled the weekend of April 14-15.
Found across Maryland, Eastern wild turkey populations are near an all-time high – now numbering around 40,000 – thanks, in part, to an intensive trap and translocation effort by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with assistance from the National Wild Turkey Federation. The mixture of fields and forests in Maryland are ideal living conditions for turkeys, so it’s your choice where you would like to travel to bag your turkey this year.
Where to Go
The Eastern Shore is home to a good number of turkeys and abundant public lands, especially on the lower shore. Upland pine woods and bottomland hardwood forests provide great turkey habitat and a range of hunting environments.
- The Pocomoke State Forest consists of 17,676 acres, with the vast majority located in Worcester County. Hunting is one of the more popular recreational activities in the Pocomoke State Forest and you’ll find healthy wild turkey populations for your hunt here.
- Idylwild Wildlife Management Area is a 3,800-acre tract in southeastern Caroline County. Hunters will enjoy a day afield pursuing turkey, with roads and trails promising easier access. Mature hardwoods, loblolly pine and Virginia pine forests blanket most of this wildlife management area, making for perfect wild turkey habitat.
- From protecting several endangered species of plants and animals to providing hunting and outdoor recreation, as well as demonstrating wildlife management techniques, Millington Wildlife Management Area fulfills several roles. This 4,000-acre parcel is located in eastern Kent County and consists of hardwood forests, with pine stands and various types of wetlands, that play home to abundant turkey populations.
Maryland’s southern region turkey populations have steadily increased over the years, making for good hunting throughout the area. Thanks to some recent acquisitions, the region now contains a moderate amount of public hunting land. Try the areas below when hunting in the southern region:
- Located in western-central Charles County, Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area contains hardwood forests, wildlife plantings, natural and man-made wetlands and early succession habitats. This 4,460-acre tract is located in the forested bottomlands of Mattawoman Creek and was once home to the Piscataway Indians. Myrtle Grove is dominated by mature upland and bottomland forests consisting of oaks, hickories, maples, sycamores, poplars, beech, and several other tree species.
- Cedarpoint Wildlife Management Area is a 1,926-acre site situated on a peninsula between Nanjemoy Creek and the Potomac River, in southwestern Charles County. It consists of a mix of forested and upland habitats, as well as tidal marsh, non-tidal ponds and wetlands, and agricultural fields. Hunters can enjoy the pursuit of numerous wild turkey that are found on the property. The forest and fields abound with wildlife.
Maryland’s central region has a growing number of turkeys. Public lands are generally fewer and smaller, but hunters have good success when visiting the areas below.
- Located in western Montgomery County, McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area is a 2,000-acre tract in a mixture of woodlands, fields, wooded bottomland and managed wetland impoundments (green-tree reservoirs). McKee-Beshers shares a common boundary with the National Park Service/the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to the south. To the east, this wildlife management area borders Seneca Creek State Park Hunting Areas, with more than 1,000- acres of public hunting — perfect for dense populations of turkey.
- Located in Howard and Montgomery Counties, along the upper 12 miles of the Patuxent River, Patuxent River State Park Hunting Areas are comprised of more than 5,000 acres of natural areas and farmlands. Recreational use is primarily hunting, fishing, and hiking.
The Western region’s vast public forests and mountainous terrain gives hunters plenty of room and natural scenery. For a better chance at harvesting a bird, visit one of the below areas:
- Savage River State Forest, at more than 50,000 acres, is the largest parcel in the state forest system, and is home to healthy turkey populations. It preserves an important watershed in Garrett County and is classified as a northern hardwood forest.
- At 47,560 acres, Green Ridge State Forest is the largest contiguous block of public land in Maryland. Green Ridge is located in Allegany County, within the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachian Mountains, and is home to dense flocks of turkeys. It is rich in both natural and cultural heritage and remains a “working forest” today, managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service.
- There are a number of Wildlife Management Areas in western Maryland; however, Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area, located in western Allegany County, is an ideal place for your turkey hunt. The 9,783-acre tract is prized by hunters for its large turkey populations and quiet landscape.
Plan Your Trip
The air is warm, the animals are moving, and the outdoors is calling; there’s no better time in Maryland than springtime. No matter where you decide to go in Maryland for your spring turkey hunt, it’s sure to be a memorable trip. Click here to choose which county you’d like to visit, and here to find guides and outfitters, outdoor retailers, shooting ranges, and places to stay. Also, be sure to enjoy some of the many attractions and events happening across the state this spring.
Turn Your Hunting Trip into a Road Trip:
With turkey hunting spots throughout the state, Maryland’s Scenic Byways are an easy way to turn a turkey hunt into a great road trip.
If you are hunting on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, definitely travel the Chesapeake Country scenic byway, a federally designated byway, to have an enjoyable ride.
If you’re headed south for your hunt, Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area is just one of 16 spots to stop on the Religious Freedom Byway.
Staying central for your hunt? Follow the same trail as British Troops in 1812 and travel along the Star-Spangled Banner Byway.
If you’re headed west, take the Mountain Maryland Byway, which is filled with scenic views, state parks, and historic towns.
Licenses & Regulations
A hunting license is required to hunt wild turkeys in Maryland (with exceptions). See Hunting Licenses and Who May Hunt Without a License.
Only bearded turkeys are legal during the spring season and can only be harvested using shotguns (loaded with #4 shot or smaller), crossbows, or vertical bows. Dogs and organized drives are prohibited. Complete turkey hunting regulations can be found here.
Photos courtesy of Maryland Department of Natural Resources