Spring Merriam's Turkey Hunts
Arizona Merriam's Turkey Guides and Outfitters
Hunt Native Merriam's Gobblers
About the Arizona Merriam's Wild Turkey
Arizona is home to the Merriam’s wild turkey. Historically, these mountain dwelling birds were only found in 3 states: Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Merriam's have been transplanted from these three states to many parts of the country, but the true place to hunt them is in their indigenous area. Arizona turkeys are wild and native birds. This is where the Merriam's originated, so they are pure. There is no hybridization in our areas like some other areas of the country that offer Merriam's turkey hunting.
Characteristics: The bright colors of the Arizona Merriam's turkey will amaze hunters that are only familiar with the other turkey subspecies. Merriam's have a cream-white accent on the outer edge of the tail feathers and rump, unlike the Eastern, Osceola, and Rio Grande turkeys (Gould's typically have pure white). It's light colored tail tips are an intermediate between the tan Rio's and pure white Gould's. The primary wing feathers are mostly white with small black accent bars (the opposite is true with the wing barring on the other 3 sub-species).
Mature Tom Merriam's Turkeys grow beards averaging 9 inches, although we have taken some over 11 inches. Since the terrain is rough and rocky, the spurs are typically worn or rounded. They usually do not exceed 1¼ inches. Three-quarter to one-inch worn spurs are the norm on mature 2 to 5 year old mountain Merriam's. The size of these Merriam's wild turkeys are BIG though, averaging over 21lbs. Typically, the mature Toms we harvest will weigh between 20 pounds to 24 pounds! That's a large turkey considering there are no food plots, no farm fields or other human feeding. Another interesting feature, the Merriam's tail fan is larger than the other three U.S. wild turkey subspecies in the Grand Slam. These are just a few common features among "true" Merriam's. If you want a real native Merriam's turkey with no hybridization that shows pure traits, come hunt with us in their native, indigenous mountain habitat of Arizona.
This is arguably the most beautiful sub-species of the Turkey Grand Slam and every Grand Slam hunter should add a "pure" Arizona Merriam’s to his collection!
We also offer Arizona Gould's Turkey Hunts.
About Our Arizona Spring Merriam's Turkey Hunts
The turkeys we hunt are primarily in remote areas and live many miles from human civilization. Unlike Nebraska or other transplant States, these are truly "wild turkeys." They live in their natural forested, mountain habitat with no food plots, no farm fields, no feeders or other human influence. Since Merriam's are mountain dwelling turkeys, our hunts take place in the Ponderosa Pine forests at elevations around 7000 to 8500 feet. The mountainous hunt area has breathtaking scenery and great temperatures of around 75 degrees in the day and 35 degrees at night. Arizona Shotgun Spring Season Merriam's turkey tags are on a lottery draw. Youth-Only season and Archery-Only Spring season turkey tags are over the counter. We typically hunt for Arizona Merriam's turkey within the Apache-Sitgreaves and Coconino National Forests.
These are fully-guided turkey hunts. Hunters are led into the field daily by an experienced Merriam's turkey guide in order to provide the highest chances for success. Our guides are very familiar with the area, terrain, where the birds hang-out, and more importantly, the techniques needed to effectively hunt native mountain Merriam's turkeys. Hunters are encouraged to bring a partner because this is primarily a 2-on-1 Merriam's hunt. If you cannot find a partner, a 1-on-1 hunt is available, but at a higher rate. We keep camp sizes to a minimum to ensure the utmost quality of the hunting experience. More often than not, it would be just you, your partner and the guide in camp.
Since Arizona is such a vast and arid (dry) environment, these native Merriam's turkeys tend to have a very large home range and are more spread-out than other turkeys. These birds live in the mountains with large canyons. Therefore, hunters should be prepared for hiking. Daily hikes could be anywhere from a 1/2 mile up to 1 mile from the end of the road, depending upon where the birds are hanging at the time of the hunt. Primarily, we walk large ridges and set-up when we strike a gobbler. We also set-up in known corridor areas and "cold call" against pine trees or in a blind to see if a weary gobbler will come to investigate. Calling birds off the roost in the early morning can sometimes be effective too. Sitting a ground blind at a water hole in the afternoon can be a productive technique, but only if we are experiencing a dry Spring season. The guide will typically call for the hunters, but experienced turkey hunters can join-in with calling as well. If you are looking for a very original turkey hunt in a challenging remote setting where you will be hunting native, indigenous mountain birds, than this is the Merriam's hunt for you!
Our Arizona turkey hunts are popular and fill fast. After you draw a tag, please try to book early, since space is limited.
The outfitter also offers limited draw Gould's turkey hunts in Southern Arizona. If you are looking to complete your Royal Slam without going to Mexico, southern Arizona is just about your only option for a U.S. Gould's gobbler. Visit the Gould's page or contact the outfitter for more details on Arizona Gould's turkey hunts.
Spring Turkey Seasons/Licenses/Bag Limits
Arizona Merriam's Spring Seasons
- Shotgun Spring Season: April 23-May 20; Shotgun Spring Merriam's tags are by random lottery draw, apply in early Oct.
- Archery-Only Spring Season: May 7-20; Archery Merriam's turkey tags are over-the-counter
Arizona Licenses and Turkey Permit Tags
Hunting License Fees: $37 (Resident) or $160 (NonResident)
Turkey Permit Tag Fees: $38 (Res) or $105 (NonRes)
The Archery-Only spring season tags are OTC. The Arizona General Shotgun Spring Turkey Season is on a random draw basis. We will assist those booking a hunt so that you are drawn in our recommended Merriam's areas. Primarily we hunt Merriam's turkey within the Coconino National Forest. Please contact us for details and instructions before applying.
Bag Limit: The bag limit in Arizona is one bearded turkey per year.
FOR MERRIAM'S TURKEY
|TURKEY Hunt Options||# DAYS||RATE|
|Guided Merriam's Turkey Hunt (2-on-1)||up to 3*||1,750.00/person (2on1)|
|Guided Merriam's Turkey Hunt (1-on-1)||up to 3*||$2,200.00/person (1on1)|
Choose a "Hunter to Guide Ratio" of either 1-on-1 or 2-on-1. The 1-on-1 hunt means one hunter per guide. 2-on-1 means two hunters per guide (share a guide). If choosing 2-on-1, it is a requirement that you bring the other hunter to share the guide with. If you cannot find a hunting partner, you will have your own personal guide and get the 1-on-1 rate.
Non-Hunter Fee: Bring a non-hunter or an observer for a flat fee of $750.00. Non-hunter space is limited. Based upon availability.
Spring Merriam's Turkey Hunts Include: Complimentary meals, complimentary camp accommodations (primarily remote tent camps), transportation in field while hunting only, a guide, trophy prep (skinning/caping/packaging for transport), up to 3 days of hunting (depart camp about noon on last day of hunting).
Costs and Considerations that are the hunter's responsibility: licenses and tags, optional rental car, optional taxidermy, shipping or transporting of animal, airport hotel stay before/after the hunt (if flying). Gratuity for your guide is gladly accepted and customary (15% is typical).
* Arrive to camp the day prior to hunting. Depart camp about noon on the last day of hunting. So, it's best if flying non-resident hunters arrive in Arizona the evening prior to meeting us (two days before hunting), rent a car from the airport, get a hotel room and we will meet the next day about noon in the hunt area about 4 hours from Tucson Airport or 2 to 4 hours from Phoenix Airport. These are the closest major airports. Flying hunters can follow us to camp with their rental car. Flights should depart the morning after the hunt. More details on the general info page.
Accommodations: We use a Southwestern Style outfitter tent camp which is often located many miles from civilization. Sleeping quarters for big game hunts are typically in deluxe outfitter tents, unless noted otherwise. A trailer often serves as the kitchen/mess hall where hunters gather to eat. If you are looking for a hunt with fancy lodges, this is NOT the hunt for you! Tent camps are used because we stay in remote areas. The deluxe tents consist of either large outfitter Kodiak canvas or Alaknak tents. The size of our tents are tall and spacious inside; typically 10X10, 10X14, or 12x12 and stand 6.5-9 feet tall. The tents are equipped with heaters during the colder months. Cots with thick pads are provided, but all hunters must bring their own sleeping bags. For those that own a camping trailer and would like to bring it to camp to stay in are more than welcome to do so, but we cannot discount the fully guided hunt any. It must be high enough for ground clearance on rough dirt roads. Please ask for road conditions before bringing one. Video of our typical camp.
Booking Info: A minimum 50% non-refundable deposit and some signed paperwork is required to book the hunt. General Spring Season hunters will book the hunt only after tags are drawn. The remaining balance is due at least 21 days prior to the hunt. We recommend cancellation insurance for all of our guests. Visit our policy page for more details on booking and cancellations.
Camo Pattern: Hunting attire (clothes, vests, packs) must be fully camouflaged. We hunt Ponderosa Pine forests, which are primarily dark brown, green and dark gray/black in color. Therefore, the best camo patterns for our areas are Realtree, Mossy Oak , Kuiu Verde or any camouflage with drab colors. Face nets/masks and gloves are required.
Weapons: It’s the law that only shotguns, crossbows, or bows be used for turkey.
Shotguns: We recommend shotguns to be camouflage and chambered for 3" or 3-1/2" in 12 gauge. If you are bringing a youth hunter or a frail person, a 20 gauge 3" magnum will suffice. The best turkey shells we have found are loads with heavier-than-lead shot, such as Hevi-13 #5 or Federal TSS #7's. If you prefer lead, Winchester Long Beard XR #5 shot produces good long-range results. Chokes should always be "turkey choke tubes" in order to produce the tightest and most uniform patterns possible for your particular gun. A Turkey Choke Tube paired with either Hevi-13, Federal TSS, or Winchester Long Beard XR produces excellent long range results, even out to 60 yards!
Shotgun Pattern: It is recommended that you pattern your shotgun prior to arrival. Patterning is well worth the time and money, considering how much is spent on turkey hunting. Buy a few different boxes of shells to see which loads produce the most hits or tightest pattern. It is proper hunter ethics to have a very tight pattern so that you either "put down" that big ol' Tom or miss his head/neck completely. The wider the pattern, the higher the risk of only hitting the bird in the body, thus crippling him. Nobody wants to see a trophy Tom get away injured, knowing he'll only die later in the woods.
Crossbows and Bows: Archery turkey hunting is the ultimate challenge, but the Crossbow Craze is quickly gaining popularity. It is only legal to use a crossbow for turkey during the general (shotgun) season and NOT during an archery-only season (unless you obtain and possess a special permit for those who cannot physically shoot a bow). The outfitter recommends that bowhunters and crossbow hunters use a broadhead with a very large metal cutting edge. Using a 2"+ bladed mechanical broadhead, such as RAGE Turkey X-treme, is preferred, since the kill zone on a turkey is rather small. This broadhead is designed with meat hooks, which helps the arrow to stay in the bird! That way, if the turkey is hit poorly (or sometimes hit well but he flies across the canyon), there is a higher chance for recovery. Tip for archery/crossbow turkey hunters: After your bird is hit with an arrow, sit tight, be silent, and just let him expire. It's not wise to get up and chase that bird!
Our Track Record: The outfitter does not just cycle a multitude of hunters through the camp. But rather, he keeps camp sizes to a minimum to ensure the utmost quality of the hunt. More often than not, it would be just you, your partner and a guide at the camp. Over the past 20+ years, our Spring Merriam's turkey hunters have experienced a high shot opportunity with a great success rate. We are proud to say that many of our seasons have experienced a 100% success rate! Unfortunately, due to the nature of turkey hunting in the mountains, success during some seasons has been lower. Bad weather, "henned-up" gobblers, the hunter's physical fitness level, or just missing the shot were the limiting factors for the unfortunate hunters. Putting all statistics aside, you can "rest-assured" that your guide will do his very best in helping you have an enjoyable hunting experience! Please feel free to contact our references and view testimonials.
About the Outfitter: Pat Feldt earned a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources with a major in Wildlife Management from the University of Arizona, which adds to his credibility as a full-time outfitter. Even though he is a big game guide throughout the year, his true passion is turkey hunting. He is a 50 year-old turkey hunting fanatic who has been pursuing wild turkeys his whole lifetime. Whether guiding Merriam's hunters, Gould's hunters, or hunting for himself, he persues turkeys nearly everyday of the Spring turkey season (about 6 weeks straight)! Pat is very experienced in all calling methods and you'll see him using most types of calls while on the hunt. But, he prefers to use the realistic sounding mouth diaphragms coupled with friction pot calls. Pat is also a firm believer in the use of decoys to aid in enticing a gobbler (if given ample time to set one up). He has taken dozens of native mountain Merriam's gobblers himself and has taken all the subspecies in the Grand Slam, as well as completed the US Royal Slam. His Gould's turkeys were taken within Arizona. See some of Pat's personal turkey harvests.
Arizona Spring Merriam's Turkey Hunt Photos