ATVs allow you to cover more ground when hunting wide-ranging birds like the Merriam’s turkey.
By Bob Humphrey
Turkey season is still a ways off, but if this is the year you’re finally going for your grand slam, it’s never too early to start planning. Here are a few things to consider while going through the process.
Osceola - Florida has a monopoly on the Osceola and they know it. Finding a place to hunt is tough, and finding a good place is tougher. Start planning early. Research, get references and recommendations and follow up with them. And expect to pay a premium, but if you’ve done your homework, it should pay off. Osceolas can be tough, so listen to your guide’s advice about where and how to hunt, especially with regard to the type and amount of calling you should do.
Merriam’s - Merriam’s inhabit rugged, open terrain of the west. They like to cover a lot of ground so you should plan on doing the same. Once the birds leave the roost they’ll spread out over the landscape and you may have to travel miles to catch up with them. Ask the outfitter if they use ATVs. This will allow you to cover more ground. Ride the bottoms, then walk up and glass from a high point. If you spot some birds, jump back on your ATV, get ahead of them and set up.
Rio Grande - Rios have a reputation for being easy. Don’t bet on it though. Recently, droughts have produced a boom or bust cycle in states like Texas and Oklahoma. One year you’ll be overrun with jakes while longbeards are few and far between – and reluctant to come to a call. Next, you’ll have to fight the two-year-old longbeards away. Ask your outfitter if this applies to where you’ll be hunting, and if you might be better off delaying things for a season.
Easterns - Here’s another place you could be over-confident. Because they’re so widespread and usually abundant, Easterns might seem like an easy target. And they can be. They could also prove your downfall. You are best off picking a couple destinations with good densities of un-pressured birds. And don’t put it off. Plan an early hunt to get it out of the way, but have a back-up late hunt in case things go wrong. Northern states where Easterns occur generally have the latest seasons.