Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles
Gobbler Grand Slam
March is the month many wild turkey hunters will be kicking off a quest. The wild turkey Grand Slam involves taking (at least) one of each of the four recognized races of wild turkey found in the U.S. It’s a daunting challenge, especially for a bowhunter, but it can be done with a little planning and a lot of luck.
Seasons open in March making Florida a good place to kick off your slam. The best option for non-resident hunters is a guided hunt, but demand and prices can be high as Florida has a monopoly on Osceola turkeys.
Still, odds for success are also higher with a guide, and this is often the toughest subspecies to tackle. If you prefer the DIY approach, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission manages public hunting on 6 million acres in their WMA system and the WMA Finder app on their website will help you find locations best suited to turkey hunting. https://ocean.floridamarine.org/HGMSearch/Search.aspx
Merriams wild turkeys can also be challenging, for different reasons. They inhabit rugged, open terrain of the western states like Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Cover is sparse and Merriams travel a long way during the day.
Fortunately, roost trees are also scarce and therefore easy to find, making setting up near a roost a good tactic. Guided hunts will help you hedge your bets but there’s also plenty of public land for those willing to do a little homework.
Rio Grandes are sometimes taken for granted because they’re usually abundant throughout their range in the midwest and Texas and often eagerly come to the call, but don’t bet on it.
Here too, guided hunts offer the best odds, especially in Texas where access is limited. However, Oklahoma and Kansas have plenty of birds and public land in the western and central areas.
Roost sites are usually localized along waterways where the tallest trees grow and Rio Grandes don’t disperse quite as much as Merriam’s. Dense cedar and mesquite also offer more cover whether running and gunning (bowing?) or building a makeshift blind.
Easterns can either be the easiest or the hardest leg of your slam. They’re widely distributed so most hunters can find them within driving distance of home, where gaining access and scouting are easier.
However, they can be tough at times so make sure you have plenty of options and time. Private land is always a better option and guided hunts offer more chance at relatively un-pressured Eastern wild turkeys.
While many hunters target one subspecies per destination, there are opportunities to take several in a single state, often with a minor change in location. Many midwestern states and Texas offer Easterns in the east and Rios in the west. Northern Florida also has easterns, and several western states have both Rios and Merriam’s.
Wild Turkey hunters typically try to take all 4 in a single season, but there are no rules that say you have to. For many it may take several seasons. There’s also a little leeway regarding which subspecies you’re actually hunting as ranges of several often overlap. You’re largely on your honor but the National Wild Turkey Federation offers maps and guidelines to go along with their official records program.
In 2006, Bob Humphrey completed the first officially recorded crossbow Grand Slam in history, thanks to support from Extreme Dimensions Game Calls, Mossy Oak, TenPoint Crossbows and Grim Reaper Broadheads.