A few weeks ago I experienced one of the best turkey hunts of my life when we harvested a number of fine Central-Florida Osceolas. From April 25–29 I will try to top that hunt as I travel to Nebraska with John Roberts, Edwin Henry and my daughter Savannah in search of the Merriam’s turkey.
The Merriam’s size is comparable to the Eastern, but it has a blacker appearance with blue, purple and bronze reflections. As seen on the handsome fellow to the right (who now permanently resides in my shop), it appears to have a white rump due to its pinkish, buff, or whitish tail coverts and tips. These tail feather tips are very conspicuous when the strutting gobbler appears against a dark background.
Originally native to the western mountain regions of the United States, its historic ranges were in the Ponderosa pine forests of Colorado, New Mexico and northern Arizona. They have now been transplanted into Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana,Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota as well. Read the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) great summary of information on the Merriam’s by clicking here.
The purple areas on this map show the Merriam’s approximate range in comparison to other subspecies. We are using a local outfitter and will be operating out of Chadron, located in the (very purple!) northwest corner of the state just below the South Dakota line. We will be hunting both public and private lands in and around the Nebraska National Forest just south of Chadron. (Click on the map to enlarge.)
Lewis and Clark reported wild turkeys in present-day Nebraska in 1804 but over-hunting and habitat destruction eventually drove the birds out. In 1959, 28 Merriam’s from South Dakota and Wyoming were released in Pine Ridge. That population grew to about 3,000 birds in only four nesting seasons. Nebraska’s first wild turkey season was in 1962.To read the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s great review of wild turkey hunting in Nebraska just click here.
While the gents are understandably fired up about this trip it is especially exciting for Savannah. She already has her Eastern and Osceola, so if she gets her Merriam’s this trip she will only be a Rio away from her Grand Slam. If she doesn’t then my name will be mud.
Stay tuned to this site as I plan to provide running commentary and pictures from the scene of the action.
“From shot to wall, we do it all.”