Traveling to Turkey Hunt Top Midwest Counties

Turkey hunters take to the road each spring to chase the gobbles. When trying to select the best places to go, hunters need to consider turkey population numbers, harvest data, license availability, the amount of public land, distance from home and so much more. 

One thing is for certain, when it comes to wrapping tags on turkeys, the Midwest stands above the rest of the country. Wisconsin and Missouri are always in contention for being the state with the most turkeys harvested. The rest of the Midwest puts up respectable numbers, too. Most states offer over the counter licenses, or at least very likely draw odds. If you are looking for a leg up on where to try your hand in the turkey woods this spring, these five destinations can’t miss. 

Kentucky – Muhlenberg County

Peabody Wildlife Management Area offers 34,560 aces. This wildlife gem in Muhlenberg County is reason enough to descend on the green River Region during turkey season. Muhlenberg County was number two in the state for spring harvest in 2022 with 524 turkeys tagged. Proximity to the Land Between the Lakes makes this county desirable, because if you do end up struggling to find turkeys, you know there is a giant swath of public land nearby. Kentucky offers over the counter licenses. The season runs April 13 – May 5.

Missouri – Shannon County 

Missouri has long been recognized as a top turkey hunting destination. The state offers over the counter licenses and hunters take advantage of them. In 2023, 41,970 turkeys were killed in the state. Hunters find success statewide, but the Ozarks are special. They region is steeped with turkey hunting tradition, especially Shannon County. Old time box call makers have come from Shannon County for generations. Box calls cut across wide valleys and carry down the long hollers of this sparsely populated county. When you add up the state, federal, and private acres open to public hunting, Shannon County offers well over 100,000 acres of public hunting. Special areas to check out are the Pioneer Forest and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. 

Indiana – Brown County

Aside from being arguably Indiana’s most scenic county, this public land rich region of the Hoosier Hills is filled with turkey. The nearly 8,000-acre Yellowwood State Forest is great spring turkey hunting destination for three reasons. One, there a re a lot of birds running around the forest. Patient hunters should do well if their willing to put in the work and escape any other hunters. Two, there is an excellent fishing lake in the State Forest. Once you tag out or give up, you can wet a line for nice largemouth, catfish, and bluegill. Three, there is a nice primitive campground in the forest next to the lake. Bring your grill and cook fresh wild turkey, fish filets, and morel mushrooms for a meal you’ll never forget. 

Wisconsin – Grant County

Wisconsin’s spring turkey season has six periods across seven Turkey Management Zones. So when and where has a lot to do with top turkey hunting destinations, but if one could choose one county to hunt, it would be hard to argue against Grant. Zone A boasts the top harvest and Grant is a leading county in the zone. It borders the Mississippi River and offers public land one can access from the water. There isn’t much public land elsewhere in the county, so public hunters need to focus on the river bottoms. 

Ohio: Athens County  

Ohio boasts an estimated population of 150,000 turkeys. The spring season is split into two zones in Ohio. The Northeast Zone is open until May 28. Smaller wildlife areas are open to turkey hunting in the Northeast Zone. The South Zone closes earlier on May 21. The Wayne National Forest offers 240,000 acres of public land in the South Zone. The bag limit for the 2023 spring season is one bearded wild turkey. Hunters must possess a valid Ohio hunting license and spring turkey permit. 

See you down the trail….
Brandon Butler
bbutler@driftwoodoutdoors.com

Pic: Traveling to turkey hunt is an exciting way to spend a few days in the spring. 

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