Merriam's Turkey Hunts
New Mexico Merriam's Turkey Guides and Outfitters
Hunt Native Merriam's Gobblers
About the New Mexico Merriam's Wild Turkey
New Mexico 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 New Mexico gobblers are wild and native birds. This is where they originated, so they are pure. There is no hybridization in our New Mexico areas like some other areas of the country that offer Merriam's turkey hunting.
Characteristics: The bright colors of the New Mexico 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 from 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 New Mexico.
This is arguably the most beautiful sub-species of the Turkey Grand Slam and every Grand Slam hunter should add a "pure" New Mexico Merriam’s to his collection!
We also offer Arizona Gould's Turkey Hunts.
About Our Wilderness Merriam's Hunts
We are proud to offer quality Spring Merriam's turkey hunts in New Mexico. The birds we hunt are primarily in a wilderness setting 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. In fact, the turkeys in most areas we hunt have never seen a human! 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 65 degrees in the day and 30 degrees at night. One of our hunting areas includes the infamous Gila National Forest. This Forest is not a small tract of land, but rather 3.3 million acres of unspoiled country and prime hunting grounds. Turkey tags in New Mexico are over-the-counter or internet.
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 the Southwest is such a vast and arid (dry) environment, native Merriam's turkeys tend to have a larger home range and are more spread-out than the other subspecies. Therefore, hunters should be prepared for some hiking. Daily hikes could be anywhere from ½ mile to 2 miles from the end of the road, depending upon where the birds are hanging at the time of the hunt. The guide will typically call for the hunters, but experienced turkey hunters can call for themselves or join-in with calling, whichever is preferred. Like Spring turkey hunting anywhere, there are many tactics to use while hunting these mountain birds. We are most successful using aggressive turkey hunting techniques. 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. You can also request to sit a ground blind at a water hole, which can be a productive technique if we are experiencing a dry Spring season. If you are looking for a very original turkey hunt in a wilderness setting where you will be hunting native mountain birds, we have the Merriam's hunt for you!
The outfitter also offers limited draw Gould's turkey hunts in Southeastern 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.
2016 Turkey Seasons/Licenses/Bag Limits
- NEW MEXICO SEASONS ARE: Junior's Only - April 8-10, General - April 15-May 10. New Mexico Spring Turkey tags are over-the-counter or Internet. Licenses are not included in our hunt prices. New Mexico hunters will purchase the licenses, tags and stamps online prior to arriving and print them on a home printer. The hunter must purchase each of these listed items to hunt our area: a NM Game-Hunting License for $65, the turkey license tags for $100.00 (includes two tags), a $5 habitat stamp, a $4 land access validation and $1 vendor fee ($175.00 Total). Spring Turkey Tags go on sale April 1st each year. Our New Mexico hunts are very popular and fill fast. Please try to book early if you are interested in a certain date.
- BAG LIMIT IN NEW MEXICO: The bag limit is two bearded turkeys in New Mexico, but our rate includes hunting for one bird per person. Once a hunter tags a bird, his hunt is either over OR he can continue hunting for a second bird for a small fee. The hunter will be charged an additional $300/person TO HUNT for the second bird for the remaining time (payable after 1st bird is taken). It is perfectly legal to take two turkeys on the same day in NM.
Now Booking for 2016!
|TURKEY PACKAGE||# DAYS||RATE|
|**Merriam's Turkey: Fully Guided (2 on 1)||3||*1,400.00/person (2on1)|
|Hunt for a second bird (New Mexico Only)||Remainder of hunt||additional $300.00 /person|
*New Mexico Hunts: add 5.125% New Mexico Gross Receipt State Tax
**This is primarily a 2-on-1 fully-guided Merriam's turkey hunt where you bring a partner to share the guide with. If you are a solitary hunter and cannot find a partner, a 1-on-1 hunt is available at $1,950.
Our Turkey Hunts are nearly ALL-INCLUSIVE!
What's Included: 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.), accommodations are included, transportation while hunting, a guide, trophy prep (skinning/caping/packaging for transport), and many extras.
Other Costs that are the hunter's responsibility: licenses and tags, optional taxidermy, airport hotel stay before/after the hunt (if flying). Gratuity for your guide is gladly accepted. Our rate includes hunting for one bird per person. Once a hunter tags a bird, his hunt is either over OR he can stay for the remainder and continue hunting for a second bird for an additional fee.
Package Details: Camp is located many miles from civilization. Accommodations are normally in outfitter tents with cots and pads, but depending upon the number of hunters in camp, a camping trailer might be used. Meals are provided, which usually consists of a quick breakfast with coffee, cooked brunch, and hot dinner. If you are successful, preparation of your trophy (skinning/caping) 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, at 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 an airport hotel room, and we will pickup early Thursday morning (about 6am) for the drive to camp. This eliminates loss of hunting time if your flight is delayed or cancelled, which is becoming a common occurrence. We typically arrive back into Tucson in the late afternoon or early evening of the last day (around 4-6pm). So, flying hunters should get 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.
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 non-hunter or an observer for a flat fee of $500.00.
Camo Pattern: Hunting attire (clothes, vests, packs) must be fully camouflaged. We hunt Ponderosa Pine forests, which are primarily dark brown and dark gray in color. Therefore, the best camo patterns for our areas are Realtree Xtra, Mossy Oak New Breakup or Infinity, Advantage Timber, or Cabela's Seclusion. 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 Hevi-Shot (Hevi-13) brand with 2 or 2¼ ounces of either #5's or #6's. Not that you'll ever shoot this far, but we have witnessed stubborn Toms taken at 60 yards with Hevi-Shot! Choke tubes should be "turkey super full," to produce the tightest and most uniform patterns possible for your particular gun. If you are looking for the perfect choke/load combo, the Hevi-Shot Turkey choke tube paired with the Hevi-13 brand in #5's or #6's produces excellent results!
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. Quality turkey shells are quite expensive, so it's wise to split the cost of these test loads with your hunting partner. Set up a paper plate or target at 40 yards to test the pattern. Count the number of pellet hits. The magic number is 100 or more hits inside a 10" circle at 40 yards. If you count less than 100 hits, try a different load or load/choke combination until the magic number is achieved. 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. Please, no body shots with a shotgun on turkeys. 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 Hypodermic, 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. Some notable archery laws for NM: A bow cannot have magnifying sights, scopes, lenses or project light, but a crossbow can have a scope during the shotgun season. Turkeys cannot be shot out of a tree and electronic calls cannot be used in NM either.
Our Success Rate: Over the past 18 seasons, our Merriam's turkey hunters have experienced a very high shot opportunity (calling a bearded gobbler to within shooting distance) with a very high success rate! We are proud to say that many seasons have been 100% success! Unfortunately, due to the nature of turkey hunting (and anybody that has hunted turkeys long enough can attest...), some seasons have been lower. Bad weather (mainly high winds), "henned-up" gobblers, hunter's physical limitations, or just "plain missing" were usually the limiting factors for the unfortunate hunters. Putting all statistics aside, you can "rest-assured" that we will do our best and will work very hard to ensure that you have an enjoyable hunting experience! The outfitter does not just cycle a multitude of hunters through our camps. 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. Please feel free to contact our references and view testimonials.
Our Guides: Your main turkey guide is also the outfitter, Pat Feldt. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences 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 45 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.
Latest Turkey Hunting Photos
Mark McDonald from CA shot this beautiful New Mexico mountain Merriam's turkey (April 2015)
Youth hunter Michael Feldt with the "Boss Gobbler" Merriam's turkey. Video (April 2015)
Kevin Moynahan from Illinois shot this nice New Mexico Merraim's turkey at 20 yards. Video (April 2015)
Ryan Betts was happy to shoot his first Merriam's turkey with guide Pat Feldt. (April 2014)
Doug Betts shot this big ol' Merriam's turkey at 42 yards. (April 2014)
Matt Mansfield and turkey guide Pat Feldt with a nice opening morning Merriam's. (April 2014)
Turkey guide Pat Feldt with a nice Merriam's Gobbler (May 2014)
Turkey guide Pat Feldt and Jarad Seidel from PA with his big Merriam's gobbler.