Attention turkey bums: Your job has become substantially more difficult. With great spring hunting opportunities available coast to coast from March through early June, you’ll probably have to pick and choose your adventures. For many folks, that means southern Florida Osceolas in early March—or, for the eager crowd, maybe Hawaiian Rio Grandes even earlier. Your choices expand as seasons for hard-gobbling Easterns open throughout the Southeast and Midwest. And then there’s that quick jaunt to Texas for loud-mouthed Rios — or maybe north to the prairies for last-chance Merriam’s.

Rough duty waits. Really, it might depend on your motivation, vacation time and need for sleep. Then again, you can snooze during summer. Here’s a quick guide to start planning your spring hunts.

Scroll through, or use the links below to jump to your state:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: Unavailable. Steve Barnett, district wildlife supervisor/wild turkey project leader for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, says the state is working to develop methodology through continuing research to better estimate the population in light of recent population declines.

Spring 2018 harvest: About 27,000, based on a Responsive Management telephone survey (the state’s mandatory reporting system, Game Check, indicated a harvest of 9,645 gobblers).

Overall outlook: “Reproduction population growth declines have been noted in recent years, with just under two poults per hen in our annual brood survey,” Barnett says. “Conditions improved in the 2018 survey, which will hopefully correspond to more two-year-old gobbling turkeys in 2020.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Barnett recommends Barbour, Skyline, Oakmulgee, and Sam Murphy wildlife management areas.

Quick tip: “As always, preseason scouting and listening for gobbling activity is recommended,” says Barnett. “Study aerial images and maps of planned hunting destinations. Most WMAs get a lot of pressure on weekends, so plan weekday hunts where possible. Based on observational data, gobbling intensity peaks in early April, so planning an out-of-state trip is probably better in April.”

Season dates/bag limits: March 16 through April 30 (varies by zone). Limit: five gobblers combined during fall and spring seasons.


Subspecies: Merriam’s, Gould’s, Rio Grande

Estimated population: Merriam’s: 25,000; Gould’s: 1,500; Rio Grande: 250

Spring 2018 harvest: About 1,100

Overall outlook: “There should be good numbers of two-plus-year-old birds, as we have had several mild winters in a row and good overwinter survival,” says Rick Langley, Region 1 game specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The dry spring and summer in 2018 affected poult survival and recruitment negatively.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Langley says Merriam’s hotspots include eastern units (1 and 27) and the North Kaibab (Unit 12A). Gould’s hunts typically see high success rates, but permit numbers are limited. Rio Grande hunts are similar to those for Gould’s.

Quick tip: Turkey habitat in Arizona occurs almost exclusively on U.S. Forest Service land, so scouting is critical.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth-only: April 19 through 25, May 10 through 23. First hunt: April 26 through May 2 and May 10 through 23; second hunt: May 3 through May 23. Archery-only: May 10 through 23 (in limited units, this is an over-the-counter tag). The annual bag limit is one turkey.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 80,000 to 100,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 7,884

Overall outlook: As in many Southeastern states, turkey reproduction in Arkansas has been declining since the early 2000s. However, prospects aren’t entirely gloomy.

“The state saw record-low reproduction in 2017, which will likely limit available birds in the two-year-old age class in 2019,” says Jeremy Wood, turkey program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “On the flip side, inclement weather during the 2018 season was likely partially to blame for reduced harvest last spring, which might have aided gobbler carryover in some areas of the state. Overall, I suspect 2019 will be another tough spring for turkey hunters in Arkansas, but I won’t be surprised if there is a slight uptick in harvest if weather cooperates.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: “For hunters hunting public land, there is ample opportunity on the Ozark-St. Francis and Ouachita national forests and the WMAs contained therein,” Wood says. “These areas are consistently in the top reported public-land harvest in the state due to the large acreage available to hunt. There is also quality hunting available on some lease-land WMAs, such as Cherokee, Jack Mountain and Casey Jones WMAs. As for hunters on private lands, the eastern Ozark counties — including Baxter, Izard and Stone counties — consistently see some of the largest harvests in the state, and I have no reason to suspect 2019 will be any different.”

Quick tip: “If you want to be successful in the woods this spring, take the time and start looking for sign in late February and March, as birds start to gear up for the breeding season,” Wood says. “Leave the calls at home, and just listen and observe. You don’t want to educate every bird in the woods to what your calling sounds like before the season even starts.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 6 and 7. Regular season: April 8 through 23, zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17; limit, two legal turkeys. April 8 through 16, zones 1A, 4, 4A, 5A and 9A; limit, one legal turkey. (Youths 6 to 15 can kill one jake as part of their two-bird season limit, including the youth hunt.)


Subspecies: Mostly Rio Grandes, with some Merriam’s, Easterns and Eastern/Rio Grande hybrids

Estimated population: 250,000

Spring 2018 harvest: Estimated at 16,000 to 19,000

Overall outlook: “The overall outlook for spring turkey hunting is good, as populations have had a couple of years to rebound since the end of a prolonged drought in California, and we expect to see more jakes in the mix this spring,” says Matt Meshriv, environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Upland Game Program.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Meshriv says counties with the consistently highest spring turkey harvests include Placer, Shasta and El Dorado. Tehama, Sonoma and Yolo counties have also seen good numbers in recent years.

Quick tip: “For those hunters without access to private lands who are seeking a more secluded hunting experience, scout out one of several areas of the state where turkeys can be found on public land that is accessible only by boat for a more private and adventurous spring turkey hunt,” Meshriv says.

Season dates/bag limits: March 30 through May 5. Archery-only: May 6 through May 19. Additional junior hunt: March 23 and 24, and May 6 through 19. The daily bag limit is one bearded turkey, with a possession limit of three for the season (spring seasons combined).

turkey hunting decoys
A jake-and-hen decoy setup can be deadly for adult gobblers. Brian Lovett


Subspecies: Merriam’s, Rio Grandes

Estimated population: 30,000 to 35,000

Spring 2018 harvest: Not available

Overall outlook: Ed T. Gorman, small-game manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says outlook information wasn’t available for Spring 2019. In 2018, he described Colorado’s turkey population as stable or increasing.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Typically, the best areas for Merriam’s is the southwestern and western portions of the state. These areas also have abundant public land.

Quick tip: “Scouting is critical to finding Merriam’s wild turkeys,” Gorman said. “They are very nomadic.”

Season dates/bag limits: Statewide general season: April 13 through May 26. Some game-management units have split seasons. See Colorado’s 2019 Turkey Regulation Brochure for more information. Bag limit: two bearded turkeys in spring. One must be taken with a limited license, the other with an over-the-counter license.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: not available

Spring 2018 harvest: 1,504 (1,137 gobblers, 361 jakes, six bearded hens)

Overall outlook: Michael Gregonis, a certified wildlife biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, says 2019 prospects look fair. The state’s 2018 brood survey index indicated about 2.4 poults per all hens.

“In addition, spring harvest, Christmas bird counts and Breeding Bird Atlas trends indicated that Connecticut’s wild turkey population peaked in the mid 2000s and exhibited a downward trend, with the past several years showing stabilization, albeit at a lower population level,” says Gregonis.

Potential 2019 hotspots: The Cockaponset State Forest in south-central Connecticut might be a good bet, according to Gregonis. It covers about 16,000 acres and has fair to good turkey numbers.

Quick tip: “Due to poor acorn productivity in most of the state, hunters probably will have more success in locating birds near fields rather than the deep woods,” Gregonis said. “Although acorn abundance is less important during the spring, it is often a factor in finding birds.”

Season dates/bag limits: April 24 to May 25. Limits: state land, two bearded birds; private land, three bearded birds.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 6,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 571

Overall outlook: Justyn R. Foth, waterfowl, turkey and upland-game-bird biologist with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, says 2018 reproductive success — as indicated by the number of poults per hen — was similar to that of the previous five years.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Foth says the C and D Canal Wildlife Area had the greatest average harvest success — 45 percent — for hunters with permits. The property borders the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. View a map at

Quick tip: “Delaware now has two turkey lottery applications,” says Foth. “One application is for lands owned by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the other is for the State Forest Service. Applying for both lotteries might provide hunters the opportunity to hunt turkeys for two weeks on public lands, but only one bird may be harvested in a season.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth/nonambulatory disabled turkey hunt: April 6. Regular season: April 13 through May 11. Limit: one.

man holding turkey hunter
The look that you get when you’re lugging one out and hear another. Brian Lovett


Subspecies: Osceola, Eastern, intergrade

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: Not available

Overall outlook: “It appears to have been a good reproductive year in 2018 across most of the state, so there should be a strong crop of jakes this spring,” said Roger Shields, wild turkey program coordinator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “The late-season hurricane in 2017 probably hurt productivity some in southern Florida, and we were not seeing many juvenile birds the following winter, so the number of 2.5-year-old gobblers may be down in southern Florida this year. Elsewhere in the state, numbers seem to be strong.”

Potential spring 2019 hotspots: Shields said the north-central portion of the state is positioned to have an above-average year.

Quick tip: Check FWC’s website for places to hunt without a quota permit.

Season dates/bag limits: South of State Road 70: youth turkey hunting weekend, Feb. 23 and 24; regular season, March 2 through April 7. North of State Road 70: youth turkey hunting weekend, March 9 and 10; regular season, March 16 through April 21. The season limit is two gobblers or bearded turkeys, except in Holmes County, where the limit is one. Hunters on private land can take both birds the same day. On public hunting areas, the daily limit is one turkey.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 300,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 17,066

Overall outlook: “We expect the 2019 season to be fair; similar to spring 2018,” said Emily Rushton, turkey project coordinator for Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “We observed poor reproduction in 2017, and while reproduction improved in 2018, there will likely be fewer than normal 2-year-old gobblers available in 2019, which may make for a tougher-than-usual season.”

Potential Spring 2019 hotspots: Rushton said the Ridge and Valley region, which encompasses much of northwestern Georgia, has seen better reproduction than other regions the past few years, and it has some of the highest hunter success rates in the state.

Quick tip: “Be patient, and take advantage of the long season,” Rushton said. “Many birds are harvested after the first two weeks, especially if the weather is unusual, like last year.”

Season dates/bag limits: Special opportunity-only: March 16 and 17; regular season, March 23 through May 15. The limit is three gobblers per season.


Subspecies: Rio Grande

Estimated population: Turkeys inhabit Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and Lanai.

Spring 2018 harvest: 42

Overall outlook: unavailable. In 2018, prospects were described as being fair.

Potential 2019 hotspots: The island of Hawaii features the state’s best public-land turkey hunting, though you can also find birds on public land on Lanai and Molokai, according to Shaya Honarvar, game program coordinator for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Quick tip: “Hunt during the week to avoid the weekend warriors,” says Jon Sabati, a longtime National Wild Turkey Federation volunteer. “Leave your crow and coyote calls home. Turkeys may shock gobble to it, but it is not a natural sound here and may cause the turkeys to go the other way.”

Season dates/bag limits: March 1 through April 15. Limit: three bearded turkeys.


Subspecies: Primarily Merriam’s, with some Easterns and Rio Grandes. Jeffrey M. Knetter, upland-game and migratory game-bird coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said hybrids occur in many areas of the state. He called them “Idaho mountain turkeys.”

Estimated population: Not available

Spring 2018 harvest: About 3,300

Overall outlook: “Turkey populations in Idaho are strong, especially in northern Idaho (the Panhandle and Clearwater regions) and in the Southeast Region,” Knetter says. “A couple of mild winters have set the stage for strong turkey populations this spring.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Knetter pointed hunters toward northern Idaho.

Quick tip: Knetter suggests that hunters use Idaho’s Hunt Planner ( for planning. Also, check out access programs, especially Access Yes! (

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 8 through 14; general season: April 15 through May 25 (varies by unit). Limit: two turkeys, both of which can be taken the same day with a general and extra tag available to hunters.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 13,494

Overall outlook: “Last year’s harvest was the lowest in the last several years, which was partially predicted by poor production during the summer of 2017,” says Luke Garver, wild turkey project manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “Another significant contributor was abysmal turkey hunting weather for the first few weeks of the season, driving down both success and participation. Early spring and summer of 2018, however, provided much better brood rearing conditions, resulting in higher production compared to the last few years. The result will likely be a fair number of jakes on the landscape this spring. Two-year-olds may be scarce, however, a remnant of poor production in 2017.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Garver said production was higher across the board statewide, but several southern Illinois counties drove up those estimates.

“Don’t let last year’s low harvest deter you from hunting southern Illinois,” he said. “Much of the low harvest and success rates in southern counties were weather-based.”

Quick tip: Illinois now sells surplus permits over the counter, and Garver says purchasing another tag provides a great opportunity for a last-minute hunt in a new county.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: March 30 and 31, April 6 and 7. Regular season, North Zone: first segment, April 15 through 19; second segment, April 20 through 25; third segment, April 26 through May 1; fourth segment, May 2 through 8; fifth segment, May 9 through 16. South Zone: first segment: April 8 through 12; second segment, April 13 through 18; third segment, April 19 through 24; fourth segment, April 25 through May 1; fifth segment, May 2 through 9. Limit: one turkey per permit, with a maximum of three permits per hunter.

turkey hunting rio longbeard
A gorgeous fan on a fine Rio longbeard. Brian Lovett


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 110,000 to 120,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 11,306

Overall outlook: “Indiana’s turkey population growth began to level off over 10 years ago like many other Midwestern states, with a general decline in hunter success the last seven to eight years, as above-normal levels of precipitation during the early brood period have negatively impacted production success,” says Steven E. Backs, statewide project leader for the wild turkey and ruffed grouse project and the wild pig elimination effort with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “The poor production was very apparent in the relatively low proportion of juveniles in the last two spring harvests (less than or equal to 15 percent) compared to over a decade ago (greater than or equal to 24 percent).”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Backs says northern Indiana has experienced better turkey production, but the area has little public land. Turkey populations are fairly evenly distributed across the public forest lands of southern Indiana, which are open to hunting.

Quick tip: “Probably the most overlooked aspect of spring turkey hunting is a thorough knowledge of the lay of the land where one plans to hunt,” Backs says. “Knowing the topography, potential travel corridors for gobblers, access points used by hunters and how the cover lays is generally more important than knowing how many gobblers are in an area. You only need to know how to beat one gobbler at his game on his turf.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 20 and 21. Regular season: April 24 through May 12. Limit: one bearded or male turkey.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 120,000 to 150,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 11,701

Overall outlook: Jim Coffey, forest wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says that the 2018 turkey production was generally good statewide. Favorable nesting conditions let birds make good first nesting attempts, and brood sizes appear to be larger than during previous years.

Potential 2019 hotspots: “Iowa provides a lot of opportunities for small woodlot-style hunts,” Coffey says. “These areas can often be overlooked by traditional turkey hunters. With good reproduction, look for birds in places you might not normally think of.”

Quick tip: “Carry a backup call,” Coffey says. “Iowa turkeys can see good pressure, and having a different call can make the difference in getting a quiet gobbler to give up his location.”

Season dates/bag limits: April 8 through May 12, broken into four periods. Residents are allowed two tags, one of which must be in the fourth season. Nonresidents are allowed one tag.


Subspecies: Eastern, Rio Grande, hybrid

Estimated population: no estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 22,639

Overall outlook: “Production has declined across much of the state in recent years, and numbers of adult birds have declined from all-time highs of 10 to 15 years ago,” says Kent A. Fricke, small-game coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “However, those declines may be stabilizing. Overall, populations remain relatively strong. Hunters should expect to find fair to good numbers of Easterns in the eastern portion of the state and fair to good numbers of Rios in western Kansas.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Fricke said the northern and south-central portions of Kansas should produce quality hunting opportunities.

Quick tip: “With approximately 600,000 acres of publicly accessible hunting ground in public lands and Walk-In Hunting Access properties, as well as an almost two-month season, hunters have a variety of options across Kansas to have a successful and enjoyable hunt,” Fricke says.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth/disabled hunt: April 1 through 16. Archery: April 8 through 16. Regular firearms/archery: April 17 through May 31. Limit: one bird per permit, limit of two permits.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 300,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 27,255

Overall outlook: Zachary Danks, grouse and turkey program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, says that 2018 turkey reproduction was 68 percent better than during the previous summer, based on a poult-per-hen ratio of 2.0 from the statewide brood survey. Further, Kentucky’s Fall 2018 harvest was 24 percent higher than the 2017 harvest.

“The third indication for more turkeys will be the percentage of juveniles in the spring harvest,” he says. “If more jakes are shot this coming spring season — assuming all other factors, like hunter preference, being equal — I take that to mean we will likely have a better spring harvest in 2020, too. Then, it’s up to the weather. Weather was not good during 2018 spring youth or general season opener, and that, along with fewer turkeys due to two consecutive years of poor hatches, resulted in a below-average harvest in 2018.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: “Brood survey results indicate the hatch may have been slightly better in eastern and central Kentucky than western Kentucky, but I don’t think the difference was significant,” Danks says. “Kentucky has some good turkey habitat across the state, so I think hunters all over will have the opportunity to bag a gobbler or two.”

Quick tip: “If you don’t tag out early, don’t overlook late-season hunting,” Danks says. “There will be fewer hunters still out there, and there are fewer hens that haven’t been bred. That, coupled with the fact that in some years (like 2018), bad weather may push the peak of gobbling and breeding back a few weeks.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 6 and 7. Regular season: April 13 through May 5. Limit: two bearded birds; one per day. Note: Federally owned properties might have different season dates and require special user permits. These include Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Bluegrass Army Depot, Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

turkey hunting rio in texas
An adult Rio hits the ground in Texas Brian Lovett


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 50,000 to 60,000

Spring 2018 harvest: about 3,000

Overall outlook: Cody Cedotal, small-game and wild turkey program manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, says 2018 turkey reproduction appears to have been moderate to good compared to previous hatches.

Potential 2019 hotspots: “Kisatchie National Forest supports good populations due to the quality habitat that exists there because of frequent prescribed burning and forest management activities,” Cedotal said.

Quick tip: “Use caution when utilizing decoys — especially male decoys,” Cedotal says. “Always identify your target.”

Season dates/bag limits: Area A: April 6 through May 5. Area B: April 6 through 28. Area C: April 6 through 21. Limit: one gobbler per day, two per season.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 60,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 6,200

Overall outlook: “We had a phenomenal hatch and survival this summer,” says Kelsey M. Sullivan, wildlife biologist with the Bird Group of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Last year was pretty good, too. There are good-sized toms out there as of now. If the weather isn’t too extreme, we should be looking at a great spring season.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Sullivan said Lincoln, Waldo and Knox counties have some of the best areas with a mixture of fields and forests. “(There are) lots of large tracts of private land that are open to hunting,” Sullivan continued. “Many landowners would welcome a knock on the door from turkey hunters.”

Quick tip: Sullivan encouraged hunters to use a wingbone call.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth hunt: April 27. Regular season: April 29 through June 1. Limit: two bearded turkeys per season, but the second bird must come from a wildlife management district with a two-bird limit. Zones 1 through 6 and 8 have a one-bird limit. Zones 7 and 9 through 29 have a two-bird limit.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: about 40,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 3,861

Overall outlook: “Reproductive success was at a record low in 2018, and (it) was the third consecutive summer of poor reproduction in most of the state,” says Bob Long, wild turkey and upland game-bird project manager with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “Hunting may be more challenging this year, but good populations are still present in most regions of the state.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Long said counties with the strongest populations include Washington, Frederick, Kent, Caroline, Queen Anne’s and St. Mary’s.

Quick tip: State land —such as Savage River State Forest, Pocomoke State Forest and Chesapeake Forestlands — hold good numbers of turkeys.

Season dates/bag limits: Junior turkey hunt: April 13 and 14. Regular season: April 18 through May 23. Sunday hunting permitted in certain counties only. Limit: one bearded turkey per day, two per season.

turkey hunting
It ain’t heavy, it’s a stud Eastern gobbler. Brian Lovett


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: about 30,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 3,031

Overall outlook: “Bird numbers have been very good over the past few years, with two of the highest three spring seasons occurring in the past few years,” says David Scarpitti, wildlife biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Eastern portions of the state have high turkey densities, but finding huntable areas and gaining access can be challenging, Scarpitti says.

Quick tip: “Scout, scout, scout,” Scarpitti adds. “There are a lot of hunters (and turkeys) in eastern Massachusetts, so it pays to be very well prepared on opening day and during that first week, when there are a lot of hunters in the field.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth hunt: April 27. Regular season: April 29 through May 25. Limit: two bearded birds per spring, one per day.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 200,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 33,433

Overall outlook: “Although 2018 spring weather conditions were harsh — a cold, wet spring with a heavy late-April snowstorm — there appeared to be average reproduction and decent bird numbers in 2018,” says Al Stewart, upland game-bird specialist and program leader with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “I expect bird numbers to be respectable this spring and anticipate hunting conditions to also be good this spring (depending on 2019 weather conditions in April and May).”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Stewart says counties with highest turkey harvests include Allegan, Montcalm, Jackson and Barry.

Quick tip: “Scout along the edges of sandy fields, and look for dust bowls and turkey tracks,” Stewart adds. “Listen for gobbling birds in the morning or at dusk along steep escarpments near creek bottoms. These are always great starting points to locate toms. Michigan is one of the top turkey hunting states in the country (No. 6 to 8 in spring harvest, with 40 to 45 percent hunter success) and is valued as having some of the highest quality turkey hunting in the nation. There are 10 million acres of land open to public hunting, which is more than any state east of the Mississippi River.”

Season dates/bag limits: Variable dates from April 22 through May 31. Limit: one bearded turkey.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: no estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 10,705

Overall outlook: Lindsey Messinger, wildlife research biologist with the Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, says the overall outlook is good. Several mild winters prior to 2019 and fair to good weather the past few nesting seasons have likely facilitated survival and reproductive success, which should result in lots of jakes and toms this spring.

Potential 2019 hotspots: “Minnesota’s core turkey range (west-central and southeastern Minnesota) attracts a majority of the hunters and typically has the highest harvest and hunter success rates,” Messinger says. “There are increasing reports of turkeys observed and harvested in our northeastern-most permit area (508). This area has also recently produced harvest and success rates similar to permit areas in the core turkey range (507 and 501).”

Quick tip: “Minnesota has over 1,440 wildlife management areas totaling over 1.2 million acres, as well as over 30,000 acres of private lands open to public hunting through our walk-in access program,” Messinger says. “Many of these sites provide exceptional turkey habitat and hunting opportunities. Hunters may also consider extending their time in the woods by taking someone new to turkey hunting out this year. Youth turkey permits are valid season-long and statewide and offer a great opportunity for hunters to pass along the tradition of turkey hunting.”

Season dates/bag limits: Six time periods, beginning April 17 and running through May 31. There’s a lottery for the first two periods. Archery and youth permits are valid during all time periods and permit areas. Limit: one bearded turkey.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 250,000 to 300,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 24,763

Overall outlook: “Turkey populations in Mississippi seem to have made a turn for the better compared to much of the last decade,” says Adam B. Butler, wild turkey program coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “Jake observations were up considerably in the northern portions of the state last spring. Meanwhile, nearly all of southern Mississippi had an incredible hatch last summer, which should boost the overall number of turkeys hunters see in the woods this spring.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Butler said the northern third of the state should offer the best hunting in 2019.

Quick tip: “Don’t feel like you have to rush to Mississippi for opening day just because we have one of the earliest openers in the country,” Butler says. “Gobbling activity gets better as the season progresses and typically peaks in late march or early April, although this can vary by region.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: March 8 through 14. Regular season: March 15 through May 1. Limit: one adult gobbler (or a gobbler with at least a 6-inch beard) per day, three per spring. Hunters 15 and younger can harvest one gobbler per day of any age or beard length and three per spring season.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 360,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 35,805

Overall outlook: “A poor hatch in 2017 will result in fewer 2-year-old gobblers on Missouri’s landscape during the 2019 season,” says Jason L. Isabelle, resource scientist and certified wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Coupled with the impact of poor production in 2016, hunters should prepare for a more challenging season than in years past.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Isabelle said the highest spring turkey harvests in recent years have come from portions of central and south-central Missouri. Top counties extend from Benton, east to Osage, south to Texas and west to Greene.

Quick tip: “Missouri has millions of acres of public land open to turkey hunting,” Isabelle added. “Visit the websites of the following agencies for more information: Missouri Department of Conservation, USDA Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Later in the season (the second and third weeks), and especially during weekdays, hunters can often find very little hunting pressure on many public areas.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 6 and 7. Regular season: April 15 through May 5. Limit: two male turkeys or turkeys with a visible beard, but one per day, and only one can be taken during the season’s first week


Subspecies: Mostly Merriam’s but some Easterns and hybrids in northwestern Montana

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 3,445 (Spring 2017 harvest)

Overall outlook: “In general, turkeys are doing well in the state, but with the drought in Summer 2017 and the following brutal 2017-’18 winter, numbers are down in many parts of the state,” says John Vore, Game Management Bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Vore says the best public hunting opportunities are in southeastern Montana. Bird numbers are great in western Montana, but most turkeys are on private land, where you must secure landowner permission to hunt.

Quick tip: The local Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist or wildlife manager in the area you plan to hunt will probably have the best grass-roots information.

Season dates/bag limits: April 13 through May 19. Limit: By purchasing various license types, you can take up to five male turkeys in spring and can also apply for one limited license through a drawing.

turkey hunting
The long walk home is always shorter when you’re slinging a longbeard. Brian Lovett


Subspecies: Mostly hybrids (Merriam’s/game-farm turkeys), but biologists suspect there are some pure Merriam’s in the extreme northwestern corner of the Panhandle.

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 17,731

Overall outlook: “2018 habitat conditions were good across the state and should have led to good poult survival and good overwinter conditioning,” says Luke Meduna, big-game program manager at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Residual cover should lead to good nesting conditions in 2019. Overall bird numbers should be holding steady from the past couple of years.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Meduna said the Loess Hills, Loess Canyons, Pine Ridge, Niobrara River Valley and Platte River corridor should continue to be strong areas for turkeys.

Quick tip: You can find survey results at

Season dates/bag limits: Archery: March 25 through May 31. Youth shotgun: April 6 through May 31. Shotgun: April 13 through May 31. Each permit is valid for one male or bearded female turkey, and a hunter can have up to three permits.


Subspecies: Rio Grande, Merriam’s

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 95

Overall outlook: “Harvest data continue to suggest that turkey populations in Nevada are doing well,” according to the state’s Small Game Status 2018 publication. “Numbers of tags have increased over the last five years, and additional tags are being recommended for the 2019 spring season as well.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: The recent translocation of Merriam’s turkeys to the Toiyabe Range and initial positive indications suggest that hunter opportunities will increase mildly during future seasons, the publication said.

Quick tip: Much of Nevada’s turkey population occurs on private lands, so obtain permission from landowners before applying for a tag. Season dates/bag limits: Generally the last Saturday in March through the first Sunday in May, but varies by unit. Limit: one by tag only.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 40,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 4,203

Overall outlook: Ted Walski, turkey project biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, says semi-drought conditions during early Summer 2018 resulted in good hatching success and poult survival. Observers noted turkey flocks “everywhere” in Fall 2018, and a summer brood survey indicated a high average of 4.15 poults per hen.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Walski says the southern third of New Hampshire has the best turkey habitat and annual harvest numbers. Top harvest units include J2, (642), K (544), H2 (470) and M (454).

“The remaining 100 dairy farms in the state are good bets to have turkeys because of the summer brood habitat and winter foods,” he said. “Towns bordering the Connecticut River and Vermont — in Cheshire, Sullivan and Grafton counties — are good bets because of the farm land.” Quick tip: “Ask for the Fish and Game Wildlife Harvest Summary to see towns with highest turkey harvests,” Walski said. “Scout woods nearest the best field areas.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth hunt: April 27 and 28. Regular season: May 1 through 31. Limit: Southern New Hampshire units H1, H2, K, J2, L and M have a two-gobbler bag limit. Elsewhere, one bearded turkey.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 20,000 to 25,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 2,875

Overall outlook: Tony McBride, supervising biologist for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, says Spring 2019 prospects look good, though 2018 production was only fair.

Potential 2019 hotspots: McBride said the Delaware River coastal plain counties — including Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland and Cape May (turkey hunting areas 15, 20, 21 and 22) — might be potentially hot areas.

Quick tip: Check the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife website for information about public-land opportunities and upcoming turkey hunting seminars.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth hunt: April 20. The regular season is broken into segments and runs April 22 through May 24. Limit: one male turkey per permit, but hunters can only harvest one turkey per day, regardless of the number of permits they hold.


Subspecies: Merriam’s, Rio Grande, Gould’s (special hunt only)

Estimated population: 20,000 to 25,000

Spring 2018 harvest: not yet calculated.

Overall outlook: “Populations will be about average in 2019,” saya Casey Cardinal, resident game-bird biologist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “Mast production in 2018 was moderate. That, combined with fair weather, led to average reproduction.” Potential 2019 hotspots: Cardinal said the best reports in recent years have come from the Sacramento and Gila mountains, and those areas should likely be good again this spring.

Quick tip: “Spend time looking at satellite images or scouting before heading out to find a good spot, and don’t be afraid to do some hiking,” Cardinal adds.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth hunt: April 11 through 13. Regular season: April 15 through May 10. Limit: two bearded turkeys.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 180,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 19,200

Overall outlook: “Reproductive success in 2018 that was close to the long-term average has improved overall turkey numbers, but for spring 2019, this will be tempered by poor reproductive success in summer 2017, resulting in a smaller proportion of 2-year-old birds on the landscape,” says Michael V. Schiavone, a certified wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Schiavone said regions 4 (Capital Region) and 9 (western New York) have had average to above-average reproductive success the past two years.

“When looking for a place to hunt within these regions, look for a landscape with a mix of forest, agriculture and early successional habitats (old fields, young forests), which tends to have more birds,” he says.

Quick tip: “Stalking stinks,” Schiavone adds. “Set up, and call birds to you. Remember the four cardinal rules of firearm safety: Assume every gun is loaded. Control the muzzle. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. And be absolutely sure of your target and what may be beyond it.”

Season dates/bag limits: May 1 through 31. Limit: two bearded birds per season, one per day.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 265,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 17,408

Overall outlook: “Harvest dropped slightly in 2018, but the population and harvest have been at or above record levels for several years,” says Christopher D. Kreh, upland game-bird biologist for grouse, quail and turkey with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Kreh said counties in the northern piedmont along the Virginia border and in the southeastern coastal plain usually have the highest harvests.

Quick tip: “Hunters looking for high-quality public-land hunts should be sure to check out permit hunting opportunities,” Kreh says. “These are usually very good opportunities for hunters lucky enough to get drawn. Opportunities on other (no special permit required) game lands can be very good as well.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth hunt: April 6 through 12. Regular season: April 13 through May 11. Limit: one per day, two per season.


Subspecies: Eastern, Merriam’s

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 1,797

Overall outlook: Rodney A. Gross Jr., upland game biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, says the state experienced a good 2018 hatch statewide.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Gross added that turkey numbers are especially high in the badlands units of western North Dakota.

Quick tip: Spring turkey hunting is closed to nonresidents, but tribal lands — such as the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation — offer opportunities.

Season dates/bag limits: April 13 through May 19. Limit: one bearded or male turkey.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 200,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 22,612

Overall outlook: “Ohio’s turkey population spiked during an excellent reproductive year in 2016,” says Mark Wiley, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. “Birds from this cohort contributed to above-average spring harvest totals in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, hunters may still encounter birds from that strong 2016 class, but poor reproductive indices in 2017 and 2018 suggest turkey numbers and spring harvest totals are likely to return to modern norms.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Wiley says southeastern and east-central counties had the highest Spring 2018 harvest totals. These areas will likely be hotspots in 2019, even if harvest totals fall short of the 2018 numbers.

Quick tip: “Practice patience,” Wiley said succinctly.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 13 and 14. Regular season: South Zone, except for Lake La Su An Wildlife Area: April 22 through May 19; Northeast Zone: April 29 through May 26. Limit: two bearded birds total, one per day.


Subspecies: Rio Grande, Eastern

Estimated population: Not available

Spring 2018 harvest: Not available

Overall outlook: Rio Grandes have a strong stable population, but Easterns have declined somewhat in recent years.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Most areas west of Interstate 35 should be good for Rio Grandes, but eight southeastern Oklahoma counties will likely be fair to poor for Easterns.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: March 30 and 31, except in the eight-county Southeast Region, where it runs April 20 through 21. Regular season: April 6 through May 6, except the Southeast Region, where it runs April 22 through May 6. Limit: three toms statewide, but a hunter cannot exceed any county limit while pursuing the season limit. There’s a one-gobbler limit for the eight southeastern counties combined.

turkey calling in a field
Turkey master Steve Stoltz in full gobbler-striking mode. Brian Lovett


Subspecies: Primarily Rio Grande, some Rio/Merriam’s hybrids

Estimated population: 40,000 to 45,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 4,797 (2017 harvest)

Overall outlook: “Turkey populations are stronger than ever in Oregon,” says Mikal Cline, upland game-bird coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Flocks continue to build in the southwest, Willamette Valley, throughout the Blue Mountains and certain areas in the Columbia Basin. Northeastern Oregon offers more public-land hunting, particularly on the extensive national forest system lands.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Cline adds the Rogue, Melrose and Applegate units in southwestern Oregon typically have high turkey harvests. Turkeys are widespread throughout the Blue Mountains and in riparian draws of the Columbia Basin. Biologists have also noticed an increase in turkey populations in the Fossil Unit and adjacent units of the Columbia Basin.

Quick tip: “Get out early in the season while the males are most vocal,” Cline says. “Turkeys will follow the snowline up in elevation in the spring, so they may be higher up than where you last saw them in early spring.”

Season dates/bag limits: April 15 through May 31. Limit: three male turkeys or turkeys with a visible beard; one turkey per day.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 229,300 (Spring 2018)

Spring 2018 harvest: 40,300

Overall outlook: Mary Jo Casalena, wild turkey biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, says the state’s overall population is higher than the previous 10-year average, which translates to very favorable bird numbers and hunting conditions.

“The best hunting, in terms of gobbling and gobbler response to hunters, tends to be where the two-year-old gobbler population is strong,” she says. “This changes annually depending on location. Therefore, pre-season scouting helps determine where those mouthy gobblers are hanging out. Even though these gobblers might quiet down after the first week of the season, chances are some are still there later in the season and are just not as vocal. Patience and stillness may work well on these birds.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Casalena suggested hunters consider state game lands (, which are large tracts of land owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and managed for wildlife and hunting. Further, she said hunters should seek areas on game lands where the Commission has recently conducted prescribed fires, as such areas are turkey magnets. Go to, and scroll to “Controlled Burning” for a map of scheduled controlled burns, the burn window status and additional information on controlled burns.

Quick tip: “Hunting pressure throughout Pennsylvania tends to be highest during the first week of the season (when 40 to 50 percent of the season harvest is taken) and Fridays and Saturdays,” Casalena said. “Scout several areas for this reason, hunt during other portions of the season and seek more secluded locations for less hunting pressure.

“Patience and stillness with Pennsylvania turkeys is key, as Pennsylvania birds seem to be more wary than those in many other states, especially for birds in older age classes (3 years plus) and those that have been worked by other hunters.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 20. Regular season: April 27 through May 31. Limit: one bearded bird per season with a general license. Hunters can take a second bird with a special turkey license, which must be purchased before April 27. One turkey per day.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: about 3,500, down from almost 6,000 in 2001.

Spring 2018 harvest: 190

Overall outlook: “During the wild turkey brood surveys, 784 adults were seen with 2,171 young, with an average of 2.8 young per adult,” says Dylan Ferreira, senior wildlife biologist with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “This is an increase from 2017, when there were 2.4 young per adult but lower than 2015, when there were 5.1 young per adult. Poor to mediocre brood production has been observed in the brood survey since 2008. 92.1 percent of all hens observed in 2018 had broods. In general, there were 2,955 birds observed and reported to the DEM in the annual summer brood survey. Hunting conditions in Spring 2018 were average after a typical winter. In late December, temperatures were well below normal, which may have strained the birds. Otherwise, temperatures were average. Temperatures were below average for much of March and April, which likely delayed breeding and nesting activity to some extent. Harvest was up 54 percent to 190 birds, from a low of 104 birds in 2012.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: “Tiverton/Little Compton and Hopkinton/Exeter had the most active calls during the 2018 spring gobbling survey,” Ferreira said. “This was also true during the 2017 spring gobbling survey.”

Quick tip: “Having birds roosted the night before can lead to great success the next day,” Ferreira says, “often resulting in a tagged bird before other birds fly down from their roost. You’ll be siting down for breakfast by 8 a.m.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth and paraplegic season: April 20 and 21. Regular season: April 25 through May 19. Limit: two bearded birds per spring, but only one can be taken on state lands.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 120,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 17,939

Overall outlook: “Although reproductive success has only been fair in recent years, the spring harvest has remained solid,” says Charles Ruth, big-game program coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Ruth suggests that hunters look at Sumter National Forest in the piedmont area and Webb Wildlife Center Wildlife Management Area in the coastal plain region.

Quick tip: “Recent research in South Carolina shows that hunting immediately and negatively affects gobbling due to the disturbance by hunters,” Ruth says.

Season dates/bag limits: Private land: March 20 through May 5; public (wildlife management area) land: April 1 through May 5. Limit: three gobblers per season, no more than two per day.


Subspecies: Primarily Easterns east of the Missouri River and primarily Merriam’s west of the river

Estimated population: Not available

Spring 2018 harvest: 5,197

Overall outlook: “Winter so far in 2019 has been relatively mild, and reproduction from last year was decent,” says Chad P. Lehman, senior wildlife biologist with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

Potential 2019 hotspots: The southern portion of the Black Hills has been especially good in recent years.

Quick tip: “We had a big policy change—no rifles will be allowed for spring hunting statewide,” Lehman says. “Hunting early in the season can lead to hunting larger wintering flocks with difficult calling conditions. Hunting later — say early May — will allow for better calling conditions and dispersed turkey populations.”

Season dates/bag limits: Archery: April 6 through May 31. Shotgun: April 13 through May 31. Limit: Black Hills: one. Prairie units: one per permit (see the application for unit-level license availability).


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: Not available

Spring 2018 harvest: 28,267

Overall outlook: “The statewide poult-to-hen ratio was low again in 2017, so I don’t expect a bumper harvest this year,” says Joy Sweaney, wildlife biologist with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “It rained most weekends last year, so hopefully this year’s harvest will be higher than last year’s.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Sweaney said the eastern half of the state has shown a steadier harvest from year to year and probably has consistently good-quality hunting.

Quick tip: Cumberland Wildlife Management Area in eastern Tennessee has good turkey numbers and lots of room — 190,000 acres — to hunt.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: March 23 and 24. Regular season: March 30 through May 12. Limit: One bearded turkey per day, not to exceed four per season.


Subspecies: Rio Grande, Eastern and Merriam’s (in the Davis Mountains)

Estimated population: 550,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 22,662

Overall outlook: “Reproductive success was low across much of the Rio range in Texas,” says Jason Hardin, turkey program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. “Eastern counties did better. Wet winter weather is setting the stage for early forb growth, providing winter greens to birds. This will help set the stage for the upcoming nesting season. More spring rains are needed to get good production and recruitment. Hunting conditions will be dependent on spring weather. There are a good number of mature gobblers on the landscape.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Hardin said the state’s top turkey harvest counties include Sutton, Edwards, Coleman, San Saba, Menard, Jack, Kimble, McMullen, Concho and Mason. “However, there is great hunting throughout the central portion of Texas, from the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle south to the Coastal Sand Plains of southern Texas,” he said. “If there is good roosting habitat, then you should have turkeys.”

Quick tip: “If possible, scout the area you will be hunting before the season opens,” Hardin says. “Once you get there, be patient, and don’t move too much or you will bump birds. If you feel like you are in a good area, stay put. Don’t overcall. Take bug spray.”

Season dates/bag limits: In general, the South Zone opens the Saturday closest to March 18 and runs for six weeks. The North Zone opens the Saturday closest to April 1 and runs for six weeks. Limit: four gobblers or bearded birds. The spring-only/gobbler-only Rio Grande zone (a 10-county area from Milam south to Matagorda County) runs April 1 through 30. Limit: four gobblers or bearded birds. The Eastern Zone runs April 22 through May 14. Limit: one gobbler or bearded bird. Seasons might vary by county. Review Texas’ Outdoor Annual or check at


Subspecies: Rio Grande, Merriam’s

Estimated population: 25,000 to 37,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 3,300

Overall outlook: Jason D. Robinson, upland game program coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, says prospects look very good, as Utah’s turkey population is near a historic high.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Robinson pointed hunters toward southwestern Utah.

Quick tip: “Do a lot of scouting,” Robinson says. “Utah has lots of public lands with turkeys, so putting in the time before the season starts to find birds is critical.”

Season dates/bag limits: Limited-entry (quota) hunt: April 13 through 25. General season (over the counter): April 29 through May 31. Limit: one.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: more than 45,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 5,898

Overall outlook: “Annual brood survey results indicate an above-average brood production year, with numerous observations of large flocks being reported statewide,” says Chris Bernier, wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “Both the spring and fall hunts in 2018 were characterized by decent hunting conditions, high success rates and healthy birds. Despite Vermont’s robust turkey population going into this past fall, however, Vermont experienced a near complete failure of its fall mast sources, and an unusually harsh November with deep snow and extended cold. Obviously, these are not ideal conditions for wildlife and it could have a measurable impact on the turkey population.” As of this writing, though, winter is well underway, and conditions have not been as severe as they were in November, so it is entirely likely that the turkeys will be fine, and spring hunters will be rewarded by an abundant and healthy flock again this spring.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Bernier says hunters can find good turkey numbers throughout the state, but the habitat and climate in the Connecticut River (wildlife management units M and O), White River (units J1 and J2) and Lake Champlain (units F1, F2 and K) valleys have some of the best opportunities.

Quick tip: “Despite the waning turkey activity experienced in the latter part of the spring season, many nice birds are harvested right up until the last day,” Bernier says. “And, relative to this spring in particular, I anticipate that birds will probably be more active in farmland and fields due to the lack of nuts and seeds in the woods, so hunters should plan their hunts accordingly.”

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 27 and 28. Regular season: May 1 through 31. Limit: two bearded turkeys.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: 155,000 to 165,000

Spring 2018 harvest: 16,186

Overall outlook: “Reproduction last three years has been below average,” says Gary W. Norman, forest game-bird biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. “Reproduction in 2018 set a new record low for productivity. Spring 2019 will likely be a tough season for Virginia hunters.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Historically, Virginia’s Tidewater Region, specifically the Northern Neck (Westmoreland, Northumberland and Richmond counties) has featured the state’s highest turkey densities.

Quick tip: “Scout before the season opens,” Norman says. “The success rates of hunters that scout are twice as high as those that do not.” Season dates/bag limits: Youth and apprentice hunt: April 6 and 7. Regular season: April 13 through May 18. Limit: three birds per license year. If a hunter does not kill any turkeys during the fall season, he can take three bearded birds per spring—one per day.


Subspecies: Merriam’s, Rio Grande and Eastern. Hunters can achieve the Washington slam by harvesting all the subspecies. See the spring regulation pamphlet for more details (

Estimated population: Not available

Spring 2018 harvest: Not available; 4,814 in Spring 2017

Overall outlook: “We had a warm and dry spring in 2018, so that likely led to high brood success,” says Sarah Kindschuh, small-game and furbearer specialist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We are also having a mild winter, so overwinter survival of adults and young will probably be high.”

Potential 2019 Hotspots: Kindschuh says turkey numbers appear to be at record levels in the Spokane area of eastern Washington. “The hottest area is typically northern Spokane county, with southern and western Spokane a close second,” she adds. “There are few turkeys in Whitman County and the majority of turkeys in Lincoln County are found north of Highway 2.”

In south-central Washington, turkeys abound in the rural-urban interface, especially near the communities of White Salmon, Husum, Klickitat, Appleton and Stevenson.

Quick tip: “The key to improving your chances for success is to respectfully contact landowners where you have observed turkeys to request access permission or to secure access from friends or relatives who own land,” Kindschuh says. “Where fall seasons are in place and landowners are experiencing property damage from high numbers of turkeys, hunters may gain favor with landowners by offering to pursue hens on their land in the fall season. This goodwill can lead to increased spring hunting access on those lands.”

More information on private land access is available at

Season dates/bag limits: Youth-only season: April 6 and 7. General season: April 15 through May 31. Limit: the combined spring/youth season limit is three male turkeys or birds with visible beards. A hunter can only kill two turkeys in eastern Washington, and only one can be killed in Chelan, Kittitas or Yakima counties. One turkey per year in western Washington outside of Klickitat County, in which two turkeys can be killed.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: Not available

Spring 2018 harvest: 12,274

Overall outlook: Turkey numbers and harvests have decreased somewhat in recent years, but the Spring 2018 harvest marked a 15-year high and a 6 percent increase from 2017.

Potential 2019 hotspots: Hunters in the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources’ District 1 — essentially the northern portion of the state — killed the most turkeys in Spring 2018.

Quick tip: The state owns more than 500,000 acres open to hunting, and the U.S. Forest Service manages about another 1 million open to hunters.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 13. Regular season: April 15 through May 11. Limit: two bearded turkeys.


Subspecies: Eastern

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 38,885

Overall outlook: “Production was likely down due to the extensive late snowfall we received during the nesting period, but thankfully we had very good brood conditions over the summer,” says Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist and Farm Bill specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “The population overall has continued to thrive, and I anticipate another successful spring hunt in Wisconsin.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Witecha says agricultural areas in southern Wisconsin have the state’s highest turkey densities.

Quick tip: Later seasons can be very good, as pressure wanes and turkeys are spread throughout their habitat.

Season dates/bag limits: Youth season: April 13 and 14. Regular season: six seven-day periods, April 17 through May 28. Limit: one bearded turkey per harvest authorization (leftover tags for some units and time periods available for sale in mid-March).


Subspecies: Merriam’s; some Rio Grandes and hybrids, depending on location

Estimated population: No estimate

Spring 2018 harvest: 2,584

Overall outlook: “Reproductive success has been average to slightly above average the past three years,” says Joe Sandrini, wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “While populations in most areas are still below historic highs, bird numbers are trending upward, and hunting should be good.”

Potential 2019 hotspots: Sandrini says the Black Hills (Hunt Area 1) provides Wyoming’s primary public-land spring hunting opportunity. It’s a general license area (over the counter). Private-land hunting is best in near Sheridan (Hunt Area 3), but gaining access can be challenging.

Quick tip: “Hunters choosing to hunt the Black Hills (Hunt Area 1) can double or triple up by hunting adjoining areas in South Dakota or nearby Nebraska,” Sandrini adds. “Hunters are encouraged to hunt the last two weeks of the season, as the weather is more predictable, the ability to access the majority of the national forest is better, and toms are more call responsive after hens are on the nest (normally by May 10).”

Season dates/bag limits: The second Saturday in April through May 20 or April 1 through May 20 (varies by hunt area). Limit: one male or bearded turkey per license. Before the license draw, hunters can only apply for and receive one license. After the draw, hunters can apply for and receive up to three licenses total, only one of which may be a general license.