A turkey slam can set some hunters back a fortune, but it’s completely avoidable.
A turkey slam seems easy enough, right? Harvest four North American subspecies of wild turkeys: Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s, and Osceola. You can take your hunting lifetime to get it done, because there’s no time limit.
But wait, ask anyone who’s accomplished a slam, and you’ll never hear “It was easy.” Turkey hunting, almost more than any other game, is finicky. You’ve got to put yourself in the right place, at the right time, and variables have to line up.
You’ll also never hear anyone say “It was cheap” when referring to their turkey slam quest. Some of the subspecies are only found in particular areas, which means travel, guided services, lodging, and likely a lot of other unforeseen or unexpected expenses.
Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to cost you your kid’s tuition fund to achieve a slam. Here are a few pointers to take into consideration when you’re interested in a major hunting accomplishment, and not a major hole in your wallet.
Nail down your specifics
Here’s the thing: a turkey slam is not for a beginner turkey hunter. It’s a fine goal to have, but if we’re being realistic, experience trumps many other factors when it comes to a success rate in turkey hunting.
Knowing that, find out what you need to plan. What turkey subspecies are in your area, and will not require travel or out-of-state licenses? How much gear do you own that you can reliably use, and how versatile is that gear across different levels?
Next up, break out the rolodex. Who do you know in Nebraska that you can shack up with while hunting for Merriam’s? How many tanks of gas would it take to get to Texas for a Rio Grande? Study the prominent locations of the different subspecies, and list out the monetary pros and cons of multiple trips.
Do your homework
Finding a hunting guide or operator to help knock out your turkey slam is crucial. Maybe one specializes in New Mexico Merriam’s, or you’re able to schedule a Florida Osceola hunt two years in advance. The best guides and operators are experts who have hunted their land for a long time, consistently put clients of various skill levels on toms, and maintained a conservation-based approach to turkey habitat and population.
Becoming a member of Fin & Field makes narrowing down your list of possibilities much easier, with extensive search functions, exclusive listings of reputable operators, and a growing community of like-minded hunters and anglers looking to enhance their sportsman lifestyle with excellent trips and experiences.
Book a flight to Florida
Florida is pretty much the only real shot you have at getting an Osceola turkey, and high quality guides and operators get booked fast. Plan ahead to visit the Sunshine State.
If you don’t live there already, an out-of-state license will obviously be required.
Strap your boots
There are just some expenses that you can’t get around when planning a turkey slam, so cutting costs in other places can help make up the difference. If you have the option of staying at a luxury lodge and being guided by their experts, or moving into a motel down the road for a weekend and still use the operator’s guide service, maybe that’s a sacrifice you’re willing to make.
Also, resist the urge to buy brand new gear for every hunt. Sure, camo can be less effective in different areas based on vegetation variation, and some birds respond strictly to one specific call, but odds are operators will provide the gear you need. Ask ahead if there’s anything special you should pack for the trip, but beyond that, only bring clothing and other equipment that you’re comfortable with and can trust will perform as intended.
Even though it doesn’t seem that difficult, anyone who’s done it will tell you completing a turkey slam is no cakewalk. Take these tips to heart, and squeeze pennies where you can.