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Subspecies of Wild Turkey

October 03, 2021 3 min read

Subspecies of Wild Turkey

North American wild Turkey is one of the most widely distributed game animals in America. Among the two types of turkey, the wild turkey is inherently challenging. There are five subspecies of turkey; each of them is alluring and unique in its way. These types of turkey act, sound, and look differently. The subspecies are

  • Eastern

  • Merriam’s

  • Gould’s

  • Rio Grande

  • Osceola

Eastern Wild Turkey:

The most populous turkey with a flock size of about 5.3 million. They are the most challenging type of turkey to hunt. 

Characteristics:

The Eastern subspecies has the following characteristics in common,

  • Very strong gobbles (strongest gobbles of all subspecies)

  • Very long beards (longest beards of all subspecies)

  • Chestnut-brown tips on tail feathers

  • White and black bars on the wings

  • Adult males weigh 18 to 30 pounds

  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds

 

 

Distribution:

They are common in every state and most widely distributed to the east of the Mississippi River, with transplant populations in Washington, Montana, and California. You can also find them in certain Canadian provinces.

Merriam’s Wild Turkey:

Merriam’s are considered the easiest subspecies to hunt as they tend to live in more rugged areas.

Characteristics:

  • Weakest gobbles of all subspecies

  • Shortest beards of all subspecies

  • Shortest spurs of all subspecies

  • Snow-white tips on tail feathers

  • More white and less black on wings

  • Adult males weigh 18 to 30 pounds

  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds

 

 

Distribution:


Merriam’s are most abundant in the mountainous regions of the West. The deserts of New Mexico to the mountains of Idaho are home to this type of turkey. Merriam’s flocks are scattered across the region as fewer habitats and more predators of this turkey.

Gould’s Wild Turkey:

The least hunted subspecies in the country are Gould’s as It is not easy to hunt Gould’s as they live in mountains that are difficult to access and nasty to investigate. 

Characteristics:

  • Moderate gobbles

  • Moderate beard-lengths

  • Moderate spur-lengths

  • Wings are mild in coloration

  • Light-colored tips on tail feathers

  • Long legs similar to the Osceola

  • Adult males weigh 18 to 30 pounds

  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds

 

 

Distribution:

Its population is small in numbers. Although it can be found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico, its range also touches Central America

Rio Grande Wild Turkey:

Rios tends to be pretty nomadic; they'll be found late morning, afternoon, or evening. Brush country, cottonwood bottoms, arid plains, big ag. are the habitats where the Rio Grande loves to live. 

Characteristics:

  • Moderate gobbles

  • Moderate beard-lengths

  • Moderate spur-lengths

  • Tan-colored tips on tail feathers

  • The exact amount of black and white barring on wings

  • Adult males weigh approximately 20 pounds

  • Adult females weigh 8 to 12 pounds

 

 

Distribution:

Western desert regions of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and other western states have the concentrated populations of Rio. In addition, they’re found from North Dakota to Hawaii; however, Mexico also harbors a healthy population.

Osceola Wild Turkey:

Their estimated population is around 90,000. They spend their time among cattle in open pastures, palmetto hammocks, and pine timber stands.

Characteristics:

  • A hollow drumming sound precedes high-pitched gobbles

  • No beard

  • Very long spurs Rainbow-like iridescent feathering

  • Grey tail feathers with blue and gold tips

  • White and black wings

  • Adult Males weigh 11 to 12 pounds

  • Adult females weigh 6 to 7 pounds

 

 

Distribution:

Osceola turkeys are only found in Florida.

To make your turkey hunting more enjoyable this article might be helpful, Get Ready for the Turkey Hunting Adventure!

 

 


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