What is the Turkey Grand Slam?

Dim, docile and too fat to fly, domestic turkeys wouldn’t last the first minute of opening day. Their wild counterparts are an entirely different matter. In contrast to their domestic cousins, wild turkeys are smart, spunky and never easy to trick. Hunting these birds requires patience, understanding and impeccable skills. Dropping one with a well-placed shot is something for which all hunters should be proud. Turkeys aren’t easy quarry to claim. But many hunters, particularly those who are highly skilled or motivated, go above and beyond, aiming to achieve the ultimate feat in wild turkey hunting.

Turkey hunters and associations recognize several different season-long accomplishments called turkey slams. To complete a slam, you must shoot one of several different turkey subspecies. All five of the subspecies of turkey that are commonly found in the continental United States—Osceola, Rio Grande, Merriam, Gould’s, and Eastern turkeys—must be harvested in order to accomplish the grand slam of turkey hunting.

Accomplishing this feat obviously involves quite a bit of travel—minimally requiring you to trek half-way across the country. It also necessitates plenty of planning. In addition to having the tools and clothing required to defeat each difficult target, you’ll also need to consider the varied seasons, weather patterns, and laws that apply in different states and environments.

The Florida wild turkey, or Osceola turkey (Meleagris gallopavo osceola), is often compared to the well-known eastern turkey, but it is smaller and more colorful. Because of its limited range, you’ll only have the chance to bag one of these birds in Florida. They can be found throughout the majority of the peninsula, but not in the panhandle or the state’s southernmost point.

Turkeys, hunters, and civilization are forced to congregate in a small area due to the birds’ restricted range, making it difficult to locate and retrieve your prize. In fact, Osceola turkeys are often considered the most difficult part of the grand slam to achieve. You’ll need to harness all of your skills to be successful.

The Turkey Grand Slam is a prestigious accomplishment in the world of turkey hunting, achieved by harvesting all four subspecies of wild turkey in the United States:

  • Eastern Turkey: The most populous and widespread subspecies, found from Maine to Florida to Louisiana and beyond.
  • Rio Grande Turkey: Found in the southern flyover states and California, known for their aggressive gobbles and willingness to come into range.
  • Merriam’s Turkey: Distinguished by their creamy white-tipped feathers and frequent gobbles, found in the central and western United States.
  • Osceola Turkey: The most challenging subspecies to hunt due to their limited range in southern Florida and lack of public access opportunities.

How to Achieve the Turkey Grand Slam

There are two main approaches to achieving the Turkey Grand Slam:

1. Multi-Year Approach: This involves hunting each subspecies over multiple years, allowing for more flexibility and planning.

2. Single-Season Approach: This involves harvesting all four subspecies within a single spring season presenting a greater logistical and financial challenge.

Tips for Planning Your Turkey Grand Slam

  • Use onX Hunt: This app provides valuable tools for researching hunting areas, planning your hunts, and finding public land opportunities.
  • Consider an Outfitter: Hiring an experienced outfitter can be helpful for the Osceola subspecies, which is notoriously difficult to hunt on public land.
  • Utilize Hunt Reminder: This service helps you discover and apply for turkey hunts across 33 states, including special draw wildlife management area hunts.
  • Set a Budget: Achieving the Grand Slam requires significant financial investment, so plan accordingly.

My Personal Experience with the Single-Season Grand Slam

In 2021, I had the incredible opportunity to complete the Single-Season Grand Slam. Here’s a glimpse into my journey:

March 6, Florida: I went on a last-minute Osceola hunt and caught a bird on the first day of operation.

April 24, Kansas: After several days of challenges, I finally bagged a Rio Grande turkey in a public land hunt.

April 27, Montana: I located a Block Management Area using onX Hunt and harvested a Merriam’s turkey early on a weekday morning.

May 20, Wisconsin: After struggling to find a public land gobbler, I received permission to hunt on private land and completed my Grand Slam with an Eastern turkey.

The Turkey Grand Slam is a rewarding challenge for any turkey hunter. This is a prestigious achievement that can be attained with careful preparation, the appropriate resources, and a little bit of luck. Making lifelong memories along the way

Rio Grande Wild Turkey Hunting

Although it can be found as far north as Kansas, the Rio Grande turkey, or Meleagris gallopavo intermedia, is native to the south central plains as its name suggests. Despite having been introduced to Hawaii, California, and other states, the majority of hunters pursue these birds within their native range.

Although Rio Grande turkeys are found throughout their range in a variety of habitats, most of them are found close to broad river valleys and the hardwood forests they support. They discover the acorns, nuts, and seeds here, which are vital food sources for these attractive birds.

Native to the Rocky Mountain region, Merriam’s turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) are easily identified by the pale tips on their tail feathers. Merriam’s turkeys travel a great distance throughout the year, sometimes covering 20, 30, or 40 miles. They spend their summers at high elevations and their winters in the pinyon-juniper lowlands.

For several of the states in the Merriam’s turkey’s range, the open spring season occurs relatively late in the year, but the altitudes at which you’ll pursue them mean that the weather will be a little chilly. To stay comfortable as you exert yourself and struggle up the slopes, wear clothing that you can remove as needed.

A tempting opportunity for experienced turkey hunters who have already crossed three species off their list is the Gould’s turkey (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana). You will accomplish both the more challenging royal slam and the grand slam if you include this in your season total.

Gould’s turkeys range to the southernmost tip of Arizona and New Mexico, but harvesting one usually means crossing the southern border. Gould turkeys require food and water to survive, just like all other birds, but they are more able to withstand dry conditions than many other species of turkeys.

Eleagris gallopavo silvestris, the eastern turkey, is arguably the most well-known subspecies because of its range overlap with the many hunters that live along the populated east coast of the United States. However, because these birds are wise and cautious due to their acclimatization to living with humans, it is challenging to capture one.

Eastern turkeys range all the way into Canada, but U. S. hunters needn’t travel this far to find them. Most of the eastern United States’ oak-hickory forests are home to them, though occasionally they can also be found in farmland and pine forests.

The World Turkey Slam | Mark V Peterson Hunting


What is a turkey super slam?

The US Super Slam is considered the most difficult of the slams. A hunter must harvest and register a turkey from all 49 states with established turkey hunting seasons. This includes all the states within the Lower 48 as well as Hawaii.

What is the Royal Slam turkey hunting?

To achieve a Royal Slam, a hunter must harvest and register all five subspecies of the American wild turkey, the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s, Osceola (Florida) and Gould’s turkeys.

What is the world slam in turkey hunting?

To achieve the World Turkey Slam you need to have harvested one of each North American Subspecies of wild turkey. The subspecies, not in any particular order, are Eastern, Rio, Merriam’s, Osceola, Gould’s, and Ocellated.

How long do you have to complete the turkey grand slam?

There are no hard rules about how long you take to complete your slam. Many hunters try to do it in a single year, but you may opt to do one a year until you finish; then try to do your second slam in a single season.

How many Slams do you need to hunt a Turkey?

A slam is considered one of the biggest feats in turkey hunting. A hunter must harvest each species or subspecies of wild turkey listed under one of the six recognized slams in turkey hunting to complete a slam. If you want to test your turkey hunting skills and abilities, aim to complete one or all six slams.

What is the Turkey Grand Slam?

The Turkey Grand Slam, particularly the single-season slam, is the crown jewel of turkey hunting. Completing it will take you to vastly different landscapes as you trek cross-country to find the four subspecies of turkeys that complete your slam: Osceola, Eastern, Rio Grande, and Merriam’s turkey.

What is a wild turkey Slam?

The Grand Slam is the most popular of the NWTF’s recognized wild turkey slams. To achieve a Grand Slam, a hunter must harvest and register the four most common subspecies of wild turkey, the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s and Osceola (Florida) turkeys. Upon completion and registration of the slam, the hunter receives a pin and certificate.

How do you get a grand slam Turkey?

To achieve a Grand Slam, a hunter must harvest the four most common subspecies of the American wild turkey —the Eastern, Merriam’s, Rio Grande and Osceola. To date, just more than 1,500 hunters have registered Grand Slams with the NWTF, accounting for less than .1 percent of the total turkey hunting audience.

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