Bowhunting turkeys is a great way to tag a bird. Try these states this season for the ultimate gobbler hunt.
When considering what hunts might be the most challenging for a hunter, and believe me I've pondered this many times, bowhunting turkeys seems to be high on the list. I think it's because the anatomy of a turkey's vision is truly incredible.
Their eyes are located on the side of their heads, giving them near 300-degree vision. Research has also found that turkey retinas have seven different types of photoreceptors, consisting of one rod cell and six different types of cone cells, compared to a human's eyesight which consists of only one rod cell and three different types of cone cells.
If you still want to see how your bowhunting skills stack up to some wily old Toms, there are certainly states that will ensure greater success than others. There's no doubt that turkey hunting with a bow can be extremely challenging, but these are the best places to try.
My home state of Ohio is much more known for its trophy whitetail population. As a result, hunters can overlook it for its turkey hunting, but they shouldn't. Ohio's turkey population consists entirely of the Eastern subspecies. According to a 2022 research study by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the total number is around 180,000 birds. Combine that with Ohio's month-long turkey season and thick spring foliage that is sure to keep you hidden with a bow, and the state becomes a phenomenal place to consider.
The one thing that I love about hunting turkeys in Kansas is the two-for-one factor; the state holds Rio Grande and Eastern birds. Rio Grande turkeys inhabit most of the western part of the state, while the Easterns are very abundant in the northern and eastern part of Kansas. Most of the state's landscape consists of open ag fields with strips of woods. This makes for great turkey habitat; they can roost in the woods at night, and fly down to the fields in the morning. While I am sure there are many hunters that will object to this, but if I could pick only one state to hunt turkeys with my bow, Kansas would be it.
Most people don't think of Florida when they think of prime states to chase wild turkeys, and instead envision fishing in the Keys or gator hunting in the swamps. Not only does Florida have one of the earliest seasons for hunting turkeys, but it also offers the exclusive chance to go after the Osceola subspecies, which is arguably one of the most desirable birds to harvest. The one thing that I have noticed about archery hunting turkeys in Florida, which I believe has led to my success, is the lack of pressure there seems to be on the turkeys. As a result, they tend to not be very call shy, and every turkey hunter knows one of the biggest battles when hunting spring turkeys is getting them to respond to calling.
Texas might be the most obvious choice for the best state for bowhunting turkeys, and for good reason. One factor that contributes to that is the amazing cover that comes with the Texas terrain, allowing you to blend in well and remain undetected even when drawing back your bow. My friends and I went on a hunt in Texas a few years ago and were amazed by how aggressive the turkeys were, and how consistently they came into bow range within a few minutes of calling. The Rio Grande subspecies inhabits most of Texas (there are a few Easterns in a couple hunting areas), which is my favorite to hunt because of how vocal they are. Texas also has one of the most liberal bag limits; there's a generous four-bird allotment for a single hunter in a single season.
The Texas South Zone turkey season begins this year on March 19th, making it one of the earliest seasons to hunt if you're having a hard time not being able to scratch that itch. The one main drag is that Texas has very little public land, and you're likely going to have to seek hunting permission on private land or pay for an outfitter.
Best Turkey Hunting States for Bowhunters
There are many great states to bow hunt wild turkeys in, but these are generally thought of as some of the best. I have had great success with the ones mentioned above, and see no reason why you shouldn't, too.
Always remember that the key to turkey hunting with a bow is to always be ready. Have your bow up, arrow nocked, and release ready, because you never know when a longbeard is going to come running in searching for a lover. Refresh your calling skills months before the spring opener and feel comfortable using a diaphragm call, especially if you are bowhunting. Avoiding unnecessary movement is the key to success when hunting these majestic birds.
Ensure that you've got all the pertinent hunting season info, and you've acquired the regulatory hunting licenses and turkey tags.
After that, pick one of these great turkey hunting states and plan an adventure this coming spring turkey season. It'll be worth it.