As the Winter chill gives way to warmer weather, turkey hunters eagerly anticipate the start of Spring turkey season in the South. With vast expanses of forests, fields, and swamps, the southern states offer prime habitats for wild turkey populations. Here are our Top 4 states in the South to hunt turkeys.
Although biased, its hard not to love Spring hunts in the picturesque Volunteer State. Offering a variety of rich landscapes; including the rolling hills, hardwood forests, and agricultural fields paired with some of the highest density birds with usual big harvest numbers to match.
A bumper crop of nearly 30,000 birds were harvested by hunters Spring 2022 and this year could be more! TN has both Eastern and Merriam's turkeys, with the opening spring turkey season typically starting in early April and running through mid May. Spring 2023 general season runs April 15- May 28.
However, although TN has maintained a reputation as a honey hole state for hard-gobbling Easterns, in recent years there has been notable declines in populations and an over abundance of hunters, so much so that the state has lowered the season bag limit.
Alabama stands out as one of turkey hunting’s true"holy grail" states, due to decades of turkey hunting culture, lore, and strong populations of wily Eastern gobblers. With a season that starts in late March, Alabama is a popular destination for hunters looking to get a jump on their season.
The state has a healthy population of Eastern turkeys due to conservation efforts that began in the early 1900s. Their initiatives have opened countless hunting opportunities, with controlled burning, wildlife openings, and timber harvesting having helped the turkey rebound.
The 2023 spring wild turkey season officially began with a youth-only hunting weekend on March 18-19. Turkey season in most areas of Alabama runs March 25-May 8. Hunters may take one gobbler per day throughout the Spring and fall seasons.
Mississippi is another popular state for turkey hunting, known for its large population of Eastern's. Spring turkey season opened March 15th and ends May 1st.
This year especially Turkey hunters in Mississippi have every reason to be optimistic. In 2022, spring hunters took 28,390 birds, which marked a huge 30% increase from 2021 and this may rise even further this year - "While Mississippi has long been a blueblood turkey hunting state, the past 10-15 years have been troubling for many of the Magnolia State’s diehard turkey hunters. Nevertheless, signs of optimism abound. The 2022 hatch was one of the best on record and far outpaced every other southeastern state.
The 2023 season will be encouraging for most yet tough for some. Properties with better habitat will produce solid hunting. Marginal areas may have a spillover increase in birds from the 2022 hatch but will be limited in adult gobblers. Regardless, springtime in the Mississippi woods is sure to be special and always to be treasured." - Find out more about Spring Turkey hunting in Mississippi.
The Lone Star State is renowned for its epic Rio Grande turkey hunting. Texas usually has a long turkey season that varies by county, but typically opens in early April and runs through mid May. Spring 2022 saw hunters harvest just over 20,000 birds.
Texas can offer a wide range of hunting opportunities, from dense forests to open fields, making it a versatile destination for turkey hunters. Rio Grande's can be found in the Texas Hill Country, Edwards Plateau, parts of South Texas and North Texas and even in a few places out in West Texas, but the largest populations of turkeys in Texas are found in the Edwards Plateau and the Hill Country. For the full breakdown of Spring Turkey season dates in Texas - click here.
The southern states of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, are among some of the best destinations for turkey hunting in the South, offering abundant populations of Eastern, Rio Grande, and Merriam's turkeys, diverse landscapes, and generous hunting seasons.
Of course, there are many other states with incredible opportunities both on public and private land. A notable mention such as Florida prized for its warm weather, earlier season opening, and of course the Osceola subspecies - that you won't find them anywhere else!
Remember, before you plan any of your hunts to be sure to check the specific hunting regulations and season dates in each state (as they can change year-to-year), and always practice safe and ethical hunting practices. Happy hunting!
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