"Chalk, chalk, chalk, chalk" I softly made the soft, sweet sounds of a hopefully good looking hen. Grabbing my hat to mimic this gorgeous female flying down I had high hopes this bearded ninja would give up his location soon. Sure enough, halfway through performing my fly down like a conductor orchestrating his symphony, the ridge above me erupted! Not only was my bearded friend here again this morning, but he had a few buddies with him.
Slowly I put my slate call away and popped a mouth call in. They were honestly to close for comfort and once they hit the ground it was going to be game on, so I had to be ready. With an arrow nocked I kneeled motionless behind a familiar old oak tree right along a powerline cut. The previous two mornings this crafty, old boy had worked his way to this cut and then strutted up and down all while gobbling more times than I could count back and forth past this oak. Today was day number three and I was ready for action.
I'll never forget that morning. It was my third day in Kansas on my first "DIY" public land turkey hunt and I couldn't have been more excited. The scouting had been done weeks before on Google earth and even though it was public ground and anything could happen, I had a solid game plan that I believed would work. Boy was I excited to hear those birds create thunder all over that ridge that morning and I just knew they'd walk past that oak. About an hour later they did just that and I zipped an Easton FMJ shaft with a Rage on the end of it right through that old Tom's boiler room at nine steps. What an adrenaline rush!!!!
Turkey hunting is a hunt like no other in my opinion. It involves strategic planning, calling, moving around, sitting still, knowing when to practice the art of patience and when to utilize the game of "going all in and going for it". Not only do you get to watch these birds in their natural habitat while hunting them, BUT you get to hear all of the awesome sounds that go along with it. The yelps, putts, purs, cackles, gobbling and my personal favorite-spitting and drumming, are breathtaking to hear and really symbolize spring for me.
For this blog I've put together a list of my top 5 affordable DIY turkey hunting states. All of these states have easy to obtain tags, lots of public ground and won't break the bank hunting. I think anyone who has turkey hunted their home state has always dreamed of chasing these bearded, bad boys somewhere else. Well here's your chance!!! Pick a state, start looking at some maps of public ground or calling farmers to gain some private ground and get to planning because your out of state DIY turkey hunting adventure awaits! Goodluck and shoot straight!
With a harvest usually around 58,000 birds this state is known for producing high numbers of Eastern birds year in and year out in the harvest statistics category. The population here is estimated around 600,000 birds with lots of public and easy accessible private land that can be accessed by simply knocking on doors. A non resident tag will run you roughly $190 and the season goes from April 17-May 7th. Youth is April 8-9. Two bearded birds may be killed, but only one the first week. Spring 2016 harvest was 48,354 birds being harvested.
With mild winters and sandy soils the sooner state produces some monster roped birds. Lots of public ground makes this a great state to hunt. Hunting pressure usually is not a huge concern because of the vast amount of territory the state offers. Rios and Easterns can be found here with more Rios being across the state. A tag here will run you $10 and a 5 day license with it costs $175. There can be three birds taken depending on what county you're in and the seasons run from April 6- May 6 and April 17- May 6th for the Southeastern part of the state. Two of the best regions of the state are the central and western parts. These are much easier to hunt and access because the more south you go, the more mountainous terrain you'll encounter.
This is probably my all time favorite out of state turkey hunting destination. High numbers of birds with tons of public ground and it holds Easterns, Merriam's and Rios. This certainly makes this a must go to state for turkey hunters. A great thing about Kansas is that it has a very long season and affordable over the counter tags. Youth and disabled is April1-11. Archery is April 3-11 and the regular statewide is April 12-May 31. A non resident tag costs $32.50 each and the permit to go with it is $62.50. the spring 2016 harvest was 30,298 birds. In my past experiences here, the public ground is great, but gaining access to private is very easy as well. Many grain farmers here have no problem giving you permission to come and hunt the many birds that roam their farms.
It's no secret that the cornhusker state is home to some big bearded and heavy weighted birds. Over the counter tags with one of the longest seasons in the country make this state a must hunt. You can harvest up to three birds in the spring and a non resident tag will cost you around $110.00 which isn't really that bad at all. Merriam's can be found in the west, with hybrids( a mix of Easterns, Rios and Merriam's) can be found in much of the rest of the state. A good public piece to start would be the Nebraska National Forest in the western part of the state. Seasons are, Archery-March 25-May 31. Shotgun- April 16-May 31. Youth archery-The March 25-May31. Youth shotgun-April9-May 31.
Last, but certainly not least for any reason is my home state of Ohio. Ohio has a great amount of birds with an estimated population of over 200,000. The 2016 harvest was over 17,500 birds and all of the tags are over the counter. A non resident will have $125.00 in a hunting license and $24.00 for each tag up to two per hunter depending on the county. A great thing about Ohio is that after the second week birds may be hunted all day giving hunters a full day to chase those Tom's around. The south zone opens up April 24- May 21 and the northeast zone runs from May 1st-28th. There are lots of good public places to hunt, but the Southeastern part of the state is about as pretty of a place to spend a morning as any. The Wayne National Forest holds a ton of birds and so does the Grand River Wildlife Area in Ashtabula county.
I hope you all have a great spring and get to spend some time chasing around a few longbeards. Please tag us in your field photos if you're successful in harvesting a bird or just get some awesome hunting photos. We'd love to see them! Good luck, shoot straight and remember to have a good time sitting in the spring filled woods because that's what turkey hunting is all about.
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