I think most serious bowhunters would agree that the best turkey-hunting destination is typically anywhere a season is open, you have legal tags in your pocket and ready access.
But when it comes to seriously bowhunting turkeys, particular criteria certainly makes one place better than another. The biggest factor by far is an abundance of dumb birds, but that’s not all there is to think about.
There are many other important factors to weigh when ranking the best states for turkey hunting. For example, there are a lot of gobblers in Alabama, but there are also a helluva lot of turkey hunters and those birds are about as skittish as they come. Alabama is a fine place to hunt turkeys, but it certainly has its limitations.
You also have to consider how difficult it is to hunt turkeys in any given state. We all love a good challenge, but impossible odds don’t always make for the best hunting.
Also, the more birds you can call into bow range, the more opportunities you have to fill turkey tags. Calling in large numbers of mature gobblers is only possible in regions where birds receive minimal hunting pressure. This normally isn’t going to happen in certain regions, so it’s important to factor that into the equation.
Here’s my logic for the best bowhunting spots in the country: lots of lightly-hunted birds, readily-accessible land (either public or private lands where a polite knock still opens doors to hunting) and a reasonable availability of tags.
- Yes, the Grand Canyon State is a great place for gobblers. There a couple of key points to mention: Arizona has an abundance of pure-bred, native Merriam’s turkeys and lots of public land. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the Merriam’s birds they’ve tagged in the Dakotas, Nebraska or the Northwest. Sorry to burst your bubble—these aren’t native Merriam’s, but transplanted birds of questionable linage.
Arizona Merriam’s live where they’re supposed to—the Four Corners states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The White Mountain region of central Arizona is prime Merriam’s habitat made mostly of public National Forest lands.More importantly, Arizona is home to the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation and roughly 1.6 million acres of unsurpassed turkey habitat. I would venture to call this the best turkey hunting in North America, but with one caveat: a $1,650 (add second hunter for $350) price of admission automatically leaves many out. These hunts allow you to shoot two turkeys and include native guides, all accommodations and cowboy cooking. I’ve bowhunted the Big Rez three times, and each trip went home with two gobblers—one of them being my biggest gobbler to date (11 ¾-inch beard, 1¾- inch spurs). Season Dates: April 5-8 or 10-13
Application Deadline: December 1
Contact: White Mountain Apache Tribe Outdoors, 928-338-4385.