Home » Turkey, Merriams

Merriam’s Turkeys - The Straight Scoop

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

As an old gray beard turkey hunter that likes to travel, I have had the good fortune to hunt Merriam’s turkeys in NE, CO, WY, SD and MT. One thing that I have found is that there is NO AREA in ANY STATE where 100% of the birds exhibit pure white lower back covert feathers or pure white tipped tail feathers.When I worked for NWTF, we would have an annual group of 25 hunters hunt in SE Montana - far from any Rios or easterns and without exception, around 20% of the birds would be what we called buff colored and the rest were varying shades of white. These were pure strain Merriam’s and not hybrids. Please note the following quote from NWTF’s Bulletin #4 about Merriam’s turkeys. “The Merriam’s appears to have a white rump due to its pinkish, buff, or whitish tail coverts and tips.” I pass along this information because I get many inquiries from hunters looking to hunt where the birds are pure white, but in reality, there is no such place due to the genetic makeup of the Merriam’s sub-species.

The problem that arises, especially in Nebraska, is that outfitters are selling turkey hunts as Merriam’s hunts when in fact they are hybrid hunts. Case in point, I killed a gobbler near Stuart, Nebraska and it looked as Rio Grande as a Texas bird. Every bird I saw there looked like a Rio. This makes sense because in the late 1950’s Rios were the sub-species transplanted there. I then drove northwest and hunted near Valentine, Nebraska and killed a gobbler there that was a dark buff color. The other birds in that flock were whiter than the one I shot but I chose the strutter. There was an obvious lean toward Merriam’s coloration in the 75 miles between these two towns. When I drove further west near Chadron, Nebraska, the birds there were pure strain Merriam’s and exhibited typical Merriam’s coloration of mostly white with some buffs mixed in.

In closing, all of the Merriam’s hunts I offer are in areas that are pure strain Merriam’s. This is based on the NWTF sub-species distribution map and my personal experience. I take the responsibility of helping my clients obtain their slams seriously and realize a pure strain Merriam is needed to complete a slam.

Home » Turkey, Merriams

Wyoming Merriam’s Turkey - Hunt #06-T

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

Two bird limit in this part of Wyoming.

Hunt private ranches with the east slope of the scenic Bighorn Mountains as your backdrop. This is a guided hunt - the outfitter’s leases require a guide to be on the property with the hunters.

The season runs April 1 - May 20 but this outfitter typically runs most of the turkey hunts in April so he can concentrate on spring bear hunts and bear / turkey combo hunts in May.

Includes: meals, lodging,  private land hunting, 2×1 guiding, in-field transportation, airport pick up and drop off (Sheridan airport only).

License cost is $74 plus $12.50 for a conservation permit. This area (Turkey Unit 3) has a two bird limit. The general license is available over-the-counter and the limited license is by draw. The application period for the limited license is January 1-31 and the draw success has been 100%. If limited licenses are leftover after the drawing, they can be purchased while supplies last. A hunter’s safety card is required for firearm hunters if born after January 1, 1966 - not needed for archery hunters.

3 Day Hunt - 1 Bird - $1450

3 Day Hunt - 2 Birds - $1850

Home » Turkey, Merriams

Montana Merriam’s Turkey - Hunt #84-T

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

This hunt is located in eastern Montana on private land. This country is very open which forces the birds to use the canyons, draws and waterways where trees grow. The birds not only use the stands of timber for roosting but also as travel corridors making hunting them easier compared to some places.

The hunt can be done unguided or guided. On unguided hunts, hunters are shown the property, where the birds roost and travel and then you hunt on your own. On guided hunts, a guide will accompany the hunters and also provide in-field transportation.

Can be booked as a one bird hunt and then upgraded to a two bird hunt. Once you tag your first gobbler, you may pay $200 to hunt for a second bird. The second gobbler has to be taken on a different property than the first one to spread out the harvest.

Both turkey licenses are over-the counter – one is called a general turkey license and the other a R7 Turkey Area license (hunt code 799-00). License cost is $115 per turkey license plus $10 for the conservation license and $15 for the base license.

The season runs mid-April to mid-May.

Includes meals, lodging and private land hunting.

3 Day Unguided Hunt - $950 for one bird +$200 for second bird

3 Day Guided Hunt - $1450 for one bird +$200 for second bird

Home » Turkey, Merriams

South Dakota Merriam’s Turkey - Hunt #28-T

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

The outfitter has over 100,000 acres leased and an excellent population of turkeys. Deer hunting has been their primary focus so the turkeys have seen very little hunting pressure. The ranches are located in the prairie region east of Rapid City.

This hunt is fully guided. Hunters have the option to do their own calling or have the guides do it. Our clients have enjoyed 100% opportunity in past years.

Included are meals, motel lodging and 2×1 guiding. 1×1 guiding is an additional $200. Hunters booking alone must do 1×1 guiding. Can accommodate up to 6 hunters per camp.

The turkey license contains two tags. Licenses are available on-line or via mail but not over-the-counter. Copy and paste this link for deadlines and license details: http://gfp.sd.gov/hunting/big-game/turkey/spring-turkey.aspx. Licenses include two turkey tags. The season runs the second weekend in April through the third weekend in May.

Minimum age to hunt is 12. Hunters under the age of 16 must have a Hunter Ed card or a previous license from another state to apply.

2 Day Hunt - $1350 (plus 8% sales tax) one bird hunt (add $200 for 1×1 guiding)

3 Day Hunt - $1950 (plus 8% sales tax) two bird hunt (add $200 for 1×1 guiding)

Home » Turkey, Merriams

Colorado Merriam’s Turkey - Hunt #78-T

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

This hunt is a good choice for hunters looking for a low cost alternative to public land hunting. Located near my town of residence - Canon City, CO.

The ranch has year round water and excellent roost sites in the cottonwoods and Ponderosa pines. The ranch is in the transition zone between high desert and the foothills of the Wet Mountains. Elevation is approximately 6000 feet and the terrain is relatively flat.

This hunt is better suited for hunters that are patient and like to sit and call from areas turkeys like to use -  the birds are predictable here. The outfitter has blinds set up at hot spots for those that choose to use them. This hunt is not suited for hunters that like to cover a lot of ground run-n-gunning.

Some of the birds here are very white feathered but recently a few darker colored birds have been taken.  I am not sure if these darker birds are Rio / Merriam’s hybrids are just dark Merriam’s.

If you tag out early and like to trout fish, the Arkansas River is close by. The river has excellent trout fishing for rainbows and browns. In fact, the Arkansas was recently designated as a Gold Medal River. In 2012, the Ark, as locals call it, had an average of 170 pounds of trout per acre and 75 trout larger than 14 inches per acre. A 5 day non-resident fishing license is only $21. The outfitter also guides fishing trips at several reservoirs.

Non-resident spring turkey licenses are $158 and are available over the counter. Licenses can be obtained online, at a Colorado Parks & Wildlife Office or at any license issuing location such as retail stores. Anyone born after January 1, 1949 must have a hunter education card to obtain a license. Colorado accepts hunter education cards from other states. A $10 habitat stamp is also required. There is a one bird limit.

Season dates: Mid-April - end of May

3 Day Unguided Hunt - $900 with lodging at the ranch. Meals are not included. The lodge has a full kitchen and is located right amongst the turkeys.

3 Day Guided Hunt - $1050 with lodging at the ranch. Meals are not included. The lodge has a full kitchen and is located right amongst the turkeys.

Home » Black Bear Turkey, Merriams

Wyoming Merriam’s & Black Bear - Hunt #06-TBB

Click on a photo to see a larger version.
Wyoming Black Bear
Wyoming Black Bear
What a great idea -  hunt private ranches for turkeys in the morning and bowhunt for black bears over bait in the evening! Bears average 180-250 pounds and 50% are color phase (shades of brown or cinnamon). Turkey licenses and bear licenses are both over the counter so no draw is required. Wyoming has a quota for female bears killed in each region. If the quota is hit, hunting ceases in that area. The quota is not normally hit during the dates of this hunt.
One turkey and one bear limit. Up to four hunters per hunt with a maximum of eight hunters per season. Includes guide, lodging, meals, trophy drop-off at taxidermist, pick-up and drop-off at Sheridan airport.
Crossbows are legal to use. License cost is $362 for bear and $72 for turkey plus a $12.50 conservation stamp. A hunter’s safety card is required for firearm hunters if born after January 1, 1966 - not needed for archery hunters.

5 Day Hunt - $3200. Archery bear season is May 1 - June 1 and rifle bear season is May 15 - June 1. Turkey season ends on May 20.