Things to know when planning out-of-state turkey hunts
By Will Bowen | PUBLISHED March 16th, 2023
Nothing gets me fired up like sealing the deal on a gobbling turkey. There is just something magical about them. Their elusive nature and overall frustrating behavior makes me forget that their brain is the size of a pea. If that’s the case, when it comes to hunting, mine must be the size of a grain of sand. At least that is what it feels like. But like I said no amount of prior frustration keeps me from feeling the joy associated with shoving a harvested Tom in my vest.
Because of my love for turkey hunting, I have started a new Spring tradition. For the last couple of seasons I have set aside some time to travel to new states and chase gobblers. I’ve hunted several states now and am actually finalizing my plans to head to Oklahoma this Spring. This obsession all started in 2019 with my first out of state turkey hunting trip to Kansas. To make a long story short, I only had to spend three hours in the state before I was able to bag a big gobbler. That set the tone right then and I knew this would only be the beginning of seeking new turkey hunting adventures.
Becoming a traveling turkey hunter is a decision that I think very few would regret. There are so many great benefits of traveling that I would love to discuss with you, but before I dive into why I love traveling to hunt turkeys, I feel that it is my duty to lay out the few cons associated with it. They are minor and if you are anything like me, they won’t stop you!
First, and most obviously, traveling isn’t free. Tags, gas, food, and lodging all cost money. Fortunately for hunters, food and lodging can be mitigated some by camping and cooking your own groceries. Sadly when it comes to gas we are all at the mercy of oil tycoons and politicians (I could go on and on about this but I won’t). A nonresident turkey tag will cost you more than your local state’s resident tag, but often aren’t bank breakers. There are several states that will sell you a turkey tag for $150.00 to $200.00. I understand that isn’t chump change, but it beats a $760.00 elk tag.
Secondly, an out-of-state turkey hunt will cost you time. Spending PTO and time away from family and work obligations can both be hard on you. PTO is often limited and having a young family could potentially make significant length trips only a dream. However, as compared to a big game trip, a great turkey hunt could be had in just three or four days. As long as you aren’t having to travel too far, shorter hunting trips can still yield great results and an amazing adventure.
Alright, are you still with me? If so, good! Now we can discuss the things that will keep you coming back for more out of state adventures.
I discussed tag costs as being a con earlier, but that was only because it was going to cost more money than a resident tag. I also mentioned earlier that nonresident turkey tags are way cheaper than big game tags. They are essentially a quarter of the price. So if you have the itch to travel and hunt, a turkey hunt is a cheaper way to do it. You get to see the same new country and enjoy the same experience as you would chasing big game. For example, it is going to be a couple years before I can draw a Wyoming mule deer tag (nearly $400.00), but I can turkey hunt Wyoming this Spring and every Spring to come for around $100.00. In my mind you just can’t beat that. You can also use your turkey hunt as a scouting trip for future big game hunts.
Out of state turkey hunts are also a great way for you to spend time with your family or hunting buddies. I like to make these hunts a bonding experience. My dad has been my traveling buddy for the last couple of years and we’ve only grown closer because of it. This year we have invited my in-laws to hunt with us. I know we are going to have a good time and the birds better watch out because of it. I have a feeling this will become a Spring tradition.
As a traveling turkey hunter, I feel blessed. I get to experience new places and new turkey flocks every year. I get to spend time with some good people and fellowship. I get to test my small brain against a turkey’s. You just can’t beat hunting turkeys in new places. Now that you’ve dove into the mind of a traveling turkey hunter, are you going to give it a try yourself?