Turkey seasons are coming at you like a runaway hot dog cart on a San Francisco hill. Dodge the cart, but don’t dodge the opportunity for turkey season. And if you’re like me you like to squeeze every ounce of opportunity out of your adventures. That’s why whenever I go turkey hunting, especially on a cross-country jaunt, I look for ways to optimize the turkey hunt and make it a duo with another hunting option.
Sure whitetail seasons, cottontail hunts and pheasants are off the table, but you still have the predator and varmint menu to peruse and there are more opportunities than you might realize for a dynamic duo of spring hunting with turkey leading the charge.
You just can’t ignore the feral hog invasion in America and you shouldn’t if you’re heading east or south for a turkey hunt. Hogs are destructive in nature and almost any population with a thriving density of Osceola or Eastern birds will have hogs close by, especially locations near the Disney World off ramp. Pack along buckshot or an AR and be prepared for an afternoon hunt for hogs and remember it as a top option if the state of your choice only has morning hunting.
I’m in love with Merriam’s turkeys and who wouldn’t be? They are visible, they love to gobble and they love to walk right in front of my TC single-shot. Can you say “boom?” If you head west for Merriam’s be sure to take along a centerfire and stop by your local sporting goods store for a supply of Hornady Superformance Varmint ammunition. Why? Well those prairie dogs aren’t going to shoot themselves. Locations all across Merriam’s country including South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska have ample densities of prairie dogs. You can even find shooting options on nearby Indian reservations. Arm yourself and help out a rancher.
For those of you who like a challenge then plan a hunt for an Eastern gobbler in the eastern reaches of the nation. If you suddenly find yourself dumbfounded by an Einstein gobbler you can still get some sniper-style hunting in by stalking field edges for ground hogs. These plump rodents are an irritant to farmers, plus they offer the challenge of long-range shooting so your rifle won’t feel left out of a turkey hunt. And you never know. Your permission prospecting for ground hogs may just land you a new turkey hunting spot as well.
Let’s not forget the West Coast for turkey hunting either and you’re bound to find just about any subspecies there including Easterns. Prairie dogs disappear as you head westerly, but the ground squirrel rules out West and the king deed holder is the California ground squirrel. Giant ground squirrels can hit two pounds and this super-sized rodent basks in rocks, raids pastures and gobbles grain in fields throughout most of California and southern Washington. Coincidently, these are the two best states for hunting this abundant critter. They also can be darn good for turkeys as well.
Turkey hunting is exciting enough, but if you’re planning an extended trip think about varmints to fill in any gaps. Who wants to golf anyway when you can thump beady-eyed rodents at 400 yards after putting a turkey in the Coleman cooler?