HomeOutdoorsHuntingA Digital Exploration Of Realtree’s Turkey Hunting Nation

A Digital Exploration Of Realtree’s Turkey Hunting Nation

by Brett Stayton
Turkey Hunting Nation
Photo courtesy of Realtree Outdoors

Wild turkeys can be hunted in 49 different states across the country. However, some states are simply bound to be better than others. Our friends at Realtree set out to develop a turkey-hunting report card for each state based on a variety of factors. Those grades were determined the old-fashioned way: subjectively. Experts from Realtree’s team looked at turkey populations, hunter numbers, bag limits, the ease and cost of getting a license, the amount of public land available, and other factors when evaluating each state. Altogether, Realtree’s Turkey Hunting Nation is one of the most in-depth overviews of turkey hunting in America that you will find online.

Six Tips For Turkey Hunting On Public Land

The interactive map is complemented by a list that provides an overview of each state. It includes turkey hunting grades, the number of hunting licenses sold last season, and the subspecies of turkeys present in that state. By clicking on a state, you can access more in-depth information. That includes the cost of hunting licenses, harvest numbers from last year, and details on public hunting grounds. You can also find similarly valuable information in NWTF’s 2023 Spring Hunting Guide and on Outsider’s comprehensive calendar of turkey season dates.

While a lot of turkey hunting takes place on private land, not everyone who wants to chase gobblers has access to private land. That’s why a resource like Realtree’s Turkey Hunting Nation is so valuable. It makes doing your homework on where to hunt as easy as possible.

For those of you hunting public land, Realtree has also assembled a six-pack of advice that will help you out-compete other public land hunters and outsmart the wily old toms you’re after. For most hunters, hunting public land means one of two places. Either National Forests or other federally managed public lands, or Wildlife Management Areas under the jurisdiction of a state fish and wildlife agency. These tips will hold up in either type of locale though.

Scout Smarter Not Harder

Use technology to your advantage when scouting places to hunt. There are several great apps on the market. Platforms like OnX Hunt, HuntStand, and Spartan Forge that make scouting easier and more interactive and fun than ever before. Start by driving through your hunting area and looking at the map on an app. Then park the truck and do some hiking. Start dropping pins and waypoints in areas that look like they might hold birds so you go back once the season starts.

Hunt Hard The First Two Weeks Of The Season

Gobblers get more skittish and weary the longer the season goes on. Get outside and hunt as much as possible during the first two weeks of the season. This will maximize your chances of getting to a bird before another hunter does. Hunting on weekdays is also a great option for getting into the woods while there are fewer weekend warriors to compete for birds with.

Learn How To Use Multiple Calls

Turkeys can become conditioned to patterns of turkey calling. For example, there are stories of hunters using the same high-pitched mouth call to the same gobbler every morning for 5 straight days. Each time the tom veers off towards the sound of another real live hen in the area. On the 6th day, the hunter changes it up and hits the bird with a raspy box call. The gobbles thunder in response and the bird comes charging into shotgun range. Be prepared to mix up your sounds to maximize your chances.

Turkey Hunting In Nasty Weather

Usually hunting in the nastiest weather possible is advice for duck hunters, but it applies to turkey hunting too. A lot of turkey hunters will roll over and go back to sleep when the temperatures drop or the wind and rain start pounding. The hunting will be hard, as gobblers are typically quiet during storms. However, if things clear up and you get a window of better weather then it’s bound to be some of the best hunting of the season.

Keep Turkey Hunting Through The Afternoon

Sunrise is obviously the best time to turkey hunt, there’s no doubt about that. With that said, a lot of turkey hunters will pull out of the woods by 10 A.M. The gobblers might be quieter later in the day, but they’re still active. Most of the hens that toms link up with in the morning stray away from them by lunchtime, which means the afternoon is a great time to catch a gobbler flying solo.

Keep Hunting Hard Through The End Of The Season

As the season goes on, other hunters will either shoot birds or get discouraged. Either way, they’ll start clearing out of the woods by the time the end of the season rolls around. Plus many gobblers will go into a second gobbling frenzy at the end of the mating window, just trying to tap into one last receptive hen looking for love. Patience and fortitude are your best friends as a turkey hunter, so keep getting after until the season draws to a close. You just might wind up pulling the trigger on a game-winning buzzer-beater.