The Hoosier State isn’t known as a turkey hunter’s paradise. But the hunting can be quite good and may be as good now as it has ever been. Property owners and game managers are working hard to provide quality whitetail habitat in Indiana and turkeys are also benefiting. The state had a record harvest of just under 14,000 birds in 2010. Numbers have slightly declined since but turkey hunting is still at it’s peak in the state. Indiana’s turkey population is estimated at around 125,000 birds. The vast majority of turkeys are taken on private land but there are plenty of quality public land opportunities for hunters. Some of them are open to all hunters, some are by drawing only. As always, check regulations before hunting. Here are some of the best public land turkey hunting areas in Indiana.
Hoosier National Forest
At over 200,000 acres, the Hoosier National Forest is the largest public hunting property in the state. However, there are four separate units and parcels spread about wide areas. Knowing the boundaries is vital to prevent mistakenly trespassing. Don’t let that keep you away. It’s still one of the best places to hunt turkeys in the state and does include Indiana’s only wilderness area. Several hiking trails make access to spots deep within the forest easier. The habitat is diverse with ridges, ravines, open fields, and bottom lands. Hoosier National Forest is open to all hunters throughout the statewide season.
Splinter Ridge Fish & Wildlife Area
Switzerland County is perennially a top turkey producing county and Splinter Ridge FWA is in the heart of it all. The DNR acquired this 2,400 acre property in 1997 and it has become a favorite among hunters. You’ll find steep hills, woodlands, creek bottoms, and grassy pastures. This diverse habitat gives hunters a variety of locations to fool a gobbler. Check-in is required before hunting this area.
Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge
With a name like “Big Oaks” you know it has to be a great turkey hunting destination. The property covers over 50,000 acres in three counties with 25,000 acres open to hunting. The hunting areas are spread throughout so be sure to get a map before hunting. The area was an ordnance testing facility so you’ll also need to view a safety video and sign a waiver before using the property. User fees are also required. However, with plenty of turkeys abound you’ll have a chance to test some ordnance of your own. The refuge contains the largest contiguous forest block in the state. In addition to the wooded habitat, large open areas provide strutting zones for gobblers and nesting areas for hens. Lakes, streams, and wetland areas are also present. Turkey hunting here is available by drawing only.
Greene-Sullivan State Forest
This 9,000 acre forest is partially made up of old strip mining lands that have been reclaimed. You will find dense forests, open fields, and more than 120 small lakes on the property. Because of it’s history as a strip mine there are plenty of rolling hills to traverse. White pine, white oak, poplar, and maple provide a wide variety of forest habitat for turkeys. Access is good with roads winding throughout the property. Still, the challenging topography makes it possible to get away from the crowds.
Other good public land turkey hunting spots include Crosley FWA, Glendale FWA, Hillenbrand FWA, Kingsbury FWA, Minnehaha FWA, Sugar Ridge FWA, Brookville State Recreation Area, Pike State Forest, and Yellowwood State Forest.