Hunting Wild Turkeys

They’re not just for Thanksgiving anymore! In fact, America’s wild turkeys are as much a sign that spring is here as the Easter bunny. With eyesight that puts an eagle to shame and an all-too-often reluctance to come within range despite the lively “conversation” between bird and a hunter’s slate call, spring turkey seasons are a challenge that see camo-clad, shotgunners head to the woods and fields in droves.

There are four subspecies in the Lower 48. The Eastern is the most prolific, having made a stunning comeback over the last decades—with lots of help from people like those at the National Wild Turkey Federation—after near decimation in the early 1900s. You’ll find it almost everywhere in the Eastern U.S. and even into Canada. The Osceola turkey is on the other end, with the most limited distribution and germane only to South Florida. North and west in the ponderosa pines of states from New Mexico to South Dakota you’ll find the Merriam’s subspecies with its distinguishing white bands of rump and tail end feathers, while the windy plains from Texas to Utah are the range of the Rio Grande.

For more information see our friends at the National Wild Turkey Federation.

While turkeys are typically shot when standing still, keep in mind that the bird’s head/neck area represents a small target, especially out at forty yards. The key to patterning your turkey shotgun is to be sure you have an adequate pattern density at typical turkey hunting ranges. Watch this video on patterning your turkey gun and then head out to the range to be sure your choke/load combination is on target.

See more videos from NSSF