Everybody knows that when you’re on a heater, you don’t walk away from a heater. Well Jon Langston, my friends, is certainly on a heater.
He kicked off his spring hunting season by dropping a bird down in Georgia the morning before a sold-out show. He later filled all three of his Tennessee turkey tags before heading west in search of more big nasty gobblers.
The most exciting part is that Langston also checked a new sub-species of the wild bird off his list by bagging his first Merriam’s turkey, one of four types of wild turkey found in the United States.
Merriam’s turkeys are found in healthy numbers scattered across parts of Arizona, New Mexico, up through the Rocky Mountain states and into Nebraska and the Dakotas, as well as along the Washington, Oregon, and Idaho borders.
The bird Langston shot in Nebraska is considered a different sub-species than the Eastern wild turkeys he was shooting in Tennessee and Georgia.
The differences are somewhat minor, but noticeable enough that they are considered different birds. In comparison to Easterns which are the most common form of the bird, the Merriams have a softer, quieter gobble and lighter feathers, particularly on the creamy white tips of their tails and wings.
The other two species of wild turkey in the U.S. are the Osceola, native only to central and southern Florida and the Rio Grande, whose range spans roughly from Kansas, south through Texas, and into Northeastern Mexico and in patches of California and Oregon.
Successfully hunting all 4 types of birds is known as hitting the Turkey Hunting Grand Slam. Each of the four Grand Slam turkey subspecies looks, acts, and hunts a little differently.
Knowing some of those slight differences is key to successfully hunting them all, but experiencing the different environments and tactics used to pursue them all is what makes a Grand Slam so special.
The list of folks to have achieved a Grand Slam is small enough that the National Wild Turkey Federation keeps track of all the hunters known to have done it.
If Langston can keep riding the heater he’s on, he just may join the most elite turkey hunting club in the country. He’s already halfway there now.
The good people over at Realtree know as much as anybody about hunting turkeys, and their guide to differentiating between the species is interesting and informative.
Langston was also joined on his hunt by the team from Realtree Road Trips and host Tyler Jordan.
With more tags left to fill, you can keep track of the hunting action in real-time through Instagram. It looks the action is still hot, as the boys doubled on birds again already earlier this morning.
Nebraska’s spring season is among the longest around. Archery opens March 25th, shotgun opens April 17th and the season doesn’t close until May 31st.
Hunting permits can be bought over the counter for a very reasonable price, and thanks to great work from Nebraska Game & Parks, public hunting access in the Cornhusker state is relatively plentiful.
Turkey hunters in Nebraska are limited to three birds per season. Please check all rules and regulations before getting after it. And, as always, please hunt responsibly and save the whiskey for the campfire.