The Merriam’s turkey represents one of Montana’s most prized upland game birds. A flock of wild turkeys moving across a hillside studded with ponderosa pine has become an exciting-and permanent-addition to Montana’s wildlife and hunting scene. This serves as a fitting tribute to the sportsmen who worked so hard to insure that introduction of the wild turkey into Montana would be a success.
Montana falls outside the wild turkey’s ancestral range and it is not native to Montana. When the Montana Department of Fish and Game decided to introduce turkeys into Montana, it selected the Merriam’s as the best choice to achieve success. In 1954, department biologists introduced 13 Colorado birds into the Judith Mountains of central Montana. A second release was made in 1955 when 18 turkeys from Wyoming were released into the Long Pines area of southeastern Montana. Wyoming stock was also used in the Ashland area of southeastern Montana in 1956 and 1957 when 26 birds were released. This marked the last time stock from outside Montana was transplanted. Subsequent trapping and relocating distributed turkeys through numerous sites in Montana.
Turkey Hunting Seasons
Montana has a spring gobbler season and an either-sex fall season. Hunters are required to purchase a turkey tag in addition to a bird and conservation license. Hunters are allowed one wild turkey per special tag holder per special season. Popular hunting areas include the Long Pines and Ashland areas of the Custer National Forest and portions of Fergus County and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Specific information on season hunting dates, open and closed areas, and other information on regulations can be obtained from the turkey regulations for the spring and fall hunts.