Wild Turkey Species Articles
This a listing that will describe each of the wild turkey's vocalizations. But keep in mind, that birds will mix these calls up and string them together pending on the time of year, or to emphasize the meaning being put forth.
The Merriam’s wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is one of four subspecies of wild turkey within the continental United States. The Merriam’s Turkey currently occupies most of the mid-western states from Canada down to Texas.
The turkeys of North America are divided into five distinct subspecies. They differ slightly in size, color, and habits but the geographic regions where they inhabit also helps to distinguish them.
Rio Grandes are the second most populous subspecies with an estimated excess of 1 million birds stretching from Kansas to northern Mexico with established pockets of birds found as far north as the Dakotas, over through Colorado, New Mexico and Utah and in California, Oregon and Washington. Rios also offers great hunting on the big island of Hawaii. Many hunters regard the Rio as one of the “easiest” subspecies to hunt.
The Eastern subspecies is by far the most numerous and wide ranging. Located throughout the Eastern half of the United States, this subspecies is found throughout New England and southern Canada down to Florida and west to Texas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. It has also been successfully transplanted to pockets of terrain along the West Coast. It’s found in 38 states and five Canadian provinces. According to the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Eastern populations are estimated to exceed 5 million birds making it by far the most populous subspecies.
The Osceola wild turkey, also known as the Florida subspecies because it is only found on the peninsula of the Sunshine State, has by far the smallest range and population of the four primary wild turkey subspecies in the United States. Populations are estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000 birds.
Merriam’s historically have been the most isolated of the subspecies, its original range thought to fall within Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. It has successfully expanded to suitable habitat and is now hunted in Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, California and parts of Canada.
It’s regarded as one of the proudest accomplishments a turkey hunter can achieve—the Grand Slam. Collecting all four huntable United States subspecies—the Eastern, the Osceola, the Rio Grande and the Merriam’s—can take you virtually from coast-to-coast providing the hunter with not only an incredible variety of hunting challenges, but also an opportunity to tackle diverse terrain and conditions in pursuit of that ol’ longbeard.