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Public land turkey trip plan..need help!
I know spring is a long ways off but my deer season has sucked so I’m moving on mentally...lol. I’m retiring in February and ready to get serious about some of my dreams, first up is a turkey slam. I’ve killed Easterns with my bow so want to plan a trip for Merriams and Rios this spring. I’ve got a pop up camper and lots of time so was figuring I’d head to South Dakota or Nebraska after a Merriam and work down to Kansas or Oklahoma for a Rio. I’m wide open to suggestions...just looking for public land options where I can camp and hunt. Archery only areas would be great but I’m in good shape and willing to burn some boot leather, whatever it takes. I’m just getting started on my research and have never hunted out there so would appreciate some advice. Thanks guys and Merry Christmas! John
Congrats on retiring. I don't know a lot about SD. I hunt in NE a lot for turkeys and it is a great state to hunt turkeys. From what I understand the NW part of state that has true full blooded Merriams the public get hammered from guys do exactly what you are doing. Would be a great state for a Rio I am sure KS would be to both have a lot walk in to hunt. Besides SD have you considered the mountains for a Merriam parts of CO (SW) has a good population as does WY.
Hunting public land for turkeys has gotten really tough in both kansas and Oklahoma. Not that it can’t be done but it’s tough. Both Oklahoma and Kansas have walk in programs The problem is that now everyone has satellite mapping apps and know exactly where each area is and what it looks like instead of having to drive by it and hope it was good. Lots of walk-in properties are pretty terrible when it comes to habitat. This has caused any areas with good habitat to really get pounded as people are able to quickly cipher good and bad properties.
The walk-in used to be a lot better before these apps started to develop and become very popular.
Now your best bet is to pick a big area and go deep
Additionally both Oklahoma and Kansas had a massive uptick in both non-resident and resident turkey hunting because of the initial Covid quarantine this year, I suspect it will carryover until next year due to pressure from last year. It was bad! Real bad!
John, come out to the Black Hills of SD. You won’t have any trouble finding a Merriam’s if you put the time in. 100k acres of public land to hunt and camp on.
Jasper.....Black Kettle National Grassland in western Oklahoma would be an area to look at for public land gobblers. I’m sure it gets quite a bit of pressure, but there used to be tons of birds out there, quite a few years ago.
Thanks everyone for the help!
Justin, how’s the hunting pressure in the Black Hills?
Are there any archery only areas in the states we’re talking about?
I believe Nebraska has an archery only season (I think) I want to say it’s the first week or so.
Both Kansas and Nebraska have early archery seasons .
Check out Pine Ridge Indian Res. Used to have inexpensive hunt fees.
Kansas has a few days for archery only before the guns Oklahoma does not and it’s all open to shotgun on all public
NE you get roughly 3 weeks of archery before general shotgun, however youth season opens a week before shotgun.
Start the opening day of archery only in SW NE. Kill your Rio. Then head to NW NE and kill your Merriam. If you don't kill a Rio in SW NE (which is hard to not do) then go to NW KS for the bow opener and get your KS Rio then to NW NE for your Merriam.
If you have the time kill a Rio Tom in both NE and KS and head home. It's within reach....
Have a blast. This will be a fun trip.
PM me and I can give you some areas to try that have birds in NE and KS.
I LOVE that plan Quinn! I’ll be in touch. Thanks and Merry Christmas everyone!
Hunting pressure can be fairly high on the weekends but it does subside during the week as long you aren’t in a global pandemic.
Way to go Jasper. Sounds fun. Way to make use of retirement!wish I had more to add
Jasp— if you want a true slam, stay away from the hybrid areas...that includes most of Kansas and Nebraska. Sure you can get one that looks kinda Rio or one that looks kinda Merriams..Niether will be pure . It’s the different habitats that give you the real feel and challenge. If it’s Merriams, you gotta at least have hills and ponderosa pines. Rios, you want semi-arid prairie like southern Kansas or Oklahoma.
You’ve got the time, do it right. I’m a good contact for Kansas. Don’t be shy about shooting me a message if I can help.
Another thing...you’re used to hunting big woods easterners down south. Most guys in the midwest and west don’t know what killing tough turkeys is like — you do. You’ll have no problems out west, Jasper.
Thanks much Michael! I’ll be in touch...Happy New Year!
Listen to Michael, if you kill birds in the northeast than the midwest will be easy! Just like deer hunting!! Not kidding but some guys won't think thats funny but its true! LMAO!! Shawn
I’ve killed a bunch of birds in Georgia (Easterns) but have only hunted them out of state once and that was in Nebraska on private land. That’s a small sample size but the birds did seem a little less wary there. I need the dumbest birds I can find...lol