Wild Turkey Population
Merriam's, Rios, Easterns, hybrids
Number of Licenses Sold Annually
$55 to $85
$30 per permit; $25 habitat stamp
Cost of Resident License and Permit
$153 to $281
$128 per permit; $25 habitat stamp
Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit
Nebraska has been a hotbed for traveling turkey hunters the past few years, but changes are afoot.
Biologists estimate that turkey populations are down about 45 percent from 2010 numbers. In response, the state has tightened up regulations. Hunters can now purchase just two spring permits instead of three and can only shoot one turkey per day during the spring season. Further, just 10,000 spring permits are available for nonresident hunters instead of an unlimited quantity. And all turkey harvests must be reported via Telecheck.
It's not all bad news. Nebraska hunters still took 16,489 turkeys in 2022. And although the state consists mostly of private land, it's still possible to knock on doors and get hunting access. Quite a few landowners want turkeys gone. And the late season can be surprisingly great, with gobblers willing to answer a call and work to your position. Plus, seasons are long (late March to late May).
You'll find Merriam's in the west (the Pine Ridge complex and Sandhills hold birds and public access), and hybrids (usually some mix of Merriam's, Rios and Easterns) in much of the rest of the state, with some pure Easterns on the state's far eastern side.
There is good public land to be found. Head west to the Pine Ridge complex, where you can hunt Merriam's in the Nebraska National Forest and numerous wildlife management areas. Elsewhere in Nebraska, look to the river bottoms. Those waterways and the associated breaks, where forest and prairie intertwine, are where the turkeys live.
Check out the Niobrara, North Platte, South Platte, Republican, Loup and Elkhorn River systems. The Missouri River is excellent turkey country, too. The Central Loess Hills, with its pretty cedar habitat, is also good.
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