IT MAY STILL be winter where you live, but it’s spring in the South, which has plenty of turkeys and public lands to hunt them on. You may have to pay a Wildlife Management Area fee of $15-$30, but it’ll get you a great head start on the season.
The last two years have seen good hatches throughout the state. Try any of six national forests: Holly Springs, Delta, Tombigbee, Bienville, De Soto, and Homochitto. In the southeast, blowdowns and debris from Katrina add to the challenge. There’s a 6-inch beard minimum. Opens: March 15. 601-432-2400; mdwfp.com
Turkeys can be anywhere in Alabama’s large, timbered WMAs. Roads are gated in the spring, so be ready to walk. Running and gunning is how it’s done on Barbour, Choccolocco, Blue Spring, Hollins, Lowndes, Scotch, and Black Warrior WMAs. Opens: March 15. 334-242-3465; outdooralabama.com
Florida offers both Easterns and Osceolas. For the former, try the huge Apalachicola and Osceola National Forests; for Osceolas, head south to Green Swamp or Bull Creek WMAs. Osceolas typically spend the night over water. Try to roost and pattern birds, and call sparingly. Opens: March 17. 850-488-4676; myfwc.com
Georgia has about 350,000 turkeys. The highest success rates on public land are in WMAs in the northeast: Tuckahoe, Di-Lane, Yuchi, and Oaky Woods. The terrain has a gentle roll, so you can move and not get busted. Opens: March 24. 404-656-3500; gohuntgeorgia.com