Merriam's Turkey Hunts
Arizona Merriam's Turkey Guides and Outfitters
Hunt Native Merriam's Gobblers
About the Merriam's Wild Turkey
Arizona is home to the Merriam’s wild turkey. Historically, these mountain dwelling birds were only found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Merriam's have been transplanted from these three states to all parts of the country, but the true place to hunt them is in their indigenous area. Our Arizona gobblers are wild and native birds. This is where they 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 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 9.5 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 our Merriam's wild turkeys are BIG though, averaging over 21lbs. Typically, the mature Toms we harvest will weigh between 20 pounds to 25 pounds! That's a large turkey considering there are no food plots, 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 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" Merriam’s to his collection!
We also offer Arizona Gould's Turkey Hunts.
About Our Arizona Merriam's 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 7500 to 8500 feet. The hunt area has breathtaking scenery and great temperatures of around 75 degrees in the day and 30 degrees at night. Arizona Merriam's turkey tags are on a lottery draw. Juniors-Only and Archery season turkey tags are over the counter. We typically hunt unit 1, unit 6a, or unit 27 for Arizona Merriam's turkey.
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. 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. There are no fields or food plots to set a blind on. Therefore, this can be a challenging and physically demanding hunt. Hunters should be prepared for much hiking. Daily hikes could be up to 3 miles 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 if we are experiencing a dry Spring season. The guide will typically call for the hunters, but experienced turkey hunters can call for themselves or join-in with calling, whichever is preferred. 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, Southeastern 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.
2019 Turkey Seasons/Licenses/Bag Limits
Arizona Merriam's Seasons
- Juniors-Only Spring Season: April 19-25; Juniors-Only tags are over-the-counter
- General Spring Season: April 26-May 23; General Spring Merriam's tags are by random lottery draw, apply in early Oct.
- Archery-Only Spring Season: May 10-23; Archery tags are over-the-counter
- BAG LIMIT: The bag limit is one bearded turkey per year in Arizona.
The license fee is $160 (non-res) and turkey permit-tag fee is $105 (non-res).
Since the Arizona General Spring Turkey Season is on a draw basis, we can assist so that you are drawn in our recommended areas (typically unit 1, unit 6a or unit 27).
|TURKEY PACKAGE||# DAYS||RATE|
|Guided Merriam's Turkey Hunt (2-on-1)||up to 3||1,600.00/person (2on1)|
|Guided Merriam's Turkey Hunt (1-on-1)||up to 3||$2,000.00/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. 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 $700.00. Non-hunter space is limited. Based upon Availability.
Our Turkey Hunts are nearly ALL-INCLUSIVE!
What's Included with our AZ Merriam's Hunt: a complimentary ride to camp if flying (pick-up/drop-off point: Tucson Airport Hotels Only). This saves you from renting a vehicle. Meals are included (Most other turkey hunts do not provide food.), complimentary camp accommodations are included, transportation in field while hunting, a guide, trophy prep (skinning/caping/packaging for transport), up to 3 days of hunting, and many extras.
Other Costs that are the hunter's responsibility: licenses and tags, optional rental car, optional taxidermy, airport hotel stay before/after the hunt (if flying). Gratuity for your guide is gladly accepted and customary (15% is typical).
PACKAGE DETAILS: Camp is located in remote areas many miles from civilization. Camp Accommodations are normally in canvas tents or sometimes a camping trailer. Meals are provided, which usually consists of a quick breakfast with coffee, cooked brunch, and hot dinner. If you are successful, skinning/caping of your bird for transport will be provided. If flying, it is easiest to donate the meat to your guide and put the packaged turkey cape into your luggage or carry-on bag. A complimentary airport hotel pickup/drop-off can be provided for hunters that fly into Tucson, Arizona. This is the closest airport. Driving hunters will meet us either in Tucson, near camp, or a town near the hunt area, whichever is most feasible. Flying hunters should get a flight into Tucson on the evening prior to meeting us, get an airport hotel room, and we will pickup the morning prior to the hunt for a ride to camp. For example, if your hunting starts on a Friday, you should get a flight into Tucson late Wednesday evening, get a hotel room, and we will pickup early Thursday morning (about 7am) for the drive to camp. This eliminates loss of hunting time if your flight is delayed or cancelled, which is becoming a common occurrence. Hunting ends about noon on the last day. We typically arrive back in Tucson in the late afternoon of that last day. So, flying hunters should schedule a flight out the evening of the last day or the morning after the hunt (hotel required). The possible hotel stay before/after the hunt is not included and is the hunter's responsibility. Driving hunters will meet us either in Tucson, at camp, or a town near the hunt area, whichever is most feasible.
Booking Info: A minimum 50% non-refundable deposit and some signed paperwork is required to book the hunt. 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.
Non-Hunter Fee: Bring a spouse, family member or friend as non-hunter or an observer for a flat fee of $700.00. Non-hunter space is limited. Based upon Availability.
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 Xtra, Mossy Oak New Breakup or Infinity, or Kuiu Verde. 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. The best loads we have found are either Hevi-Shot (Hevi-13) or Winchester Long Beard XR with 2 or 2¼ ounces of #5's. Chokes should 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 or Winchester Long Beard XR in #5's 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 perfectly legal to use a crossbow for turkey during the general (shotgun) season, but not during an archery-only season. 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. 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.
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. More often than not, it would be just you, your partner and the guide at the camp. Over the past 20 years, our Merriam's turkey hunters have experienced varied success. We are proud to say that some seasons have been 100% success. But unfortunately, some seasons have been lower success. Bad weather (mainly 30-50mph winds), unresponsive or "henned-up" gobblers, the hunter's physical fitness level, or just "plain missing" were usually the limiting factors for the unfortunate hunters. Any experienced turkey hunter knows that these factors are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Putting all statistics aside, you can "rest-assured" that your guide will do his best and will work very hard to ensure that you have an enjoyable hunting experience! Please feel free to contact our references and view testimonials.
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 48 year-old turkey hunting fanatic who has been pursuing wild turkeys his whole lifetime. 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 mountain Merriam's gobblers himself and has hunted various states for all the subspecies in the Grand Slam and has even completed the Royal Slam.