Tom Glines was heading to Hawaii to attend a wedding when he thought: Why not kill two birds with one stone?
"I asked my wife if I could go turkey hunting while we were there," he said. She agreed.
"I didn't fly out with my gun, but I brought camo clothing,'' said Glines, 59, of Coon Rapids, a regional director of the National Wild Turkey Federation. "I only had 12 hours to hunt.'' A local turkey federation member lent him a gun, and Glines bagged a Rio Grande gobbler.
"It was a trip of a lifetime,'' he said.
Glines, who has shot turkeys in 28 states, is among scores of Minnesota turkey fanatics who travel out of state to hunt gobblers. And while thousands of hunters will be in the woods starting Wednesday when Minnesota's turkey season opens, many others already have or will exit the state this spring and head elsewhere to pursue gobblers.
"I like the challenge,'' Glines said. "I've talked to hundreds of hunters who go to the same fence post on the same farm and shoot a turkey. To me, that's kind of boring. It's interesting learning about a new culture, people and area. In Kansas, I ate lunch at a converted Pony Express station. In Oklahoma, I shot a turkey on a ridge near a pump jack that was pumping oil.
"I hunted Tennessee and Kentucky last year. This year, I'm going turkey hunting in New Jersey, just because I've never been there. My bucket list is to hunt every state. They call that the 'super slam.'''
He's already notched a "grand slam" — bagging all four subspecies of wild turkeys in the U.S. — Eastern, Merriam's, Rio Grande and Osceola. And a "royal slam,'' which includes those subspecies and the Gould's bird, found in Mexico.
His favorite place: "The Black Hills of South Dakota has always been special to me,'' he said. "I've probably hunted there more than any other place."
Many Minnesota turkey hunters travel to neighboring states simply because one hunting season here isn't enough to satiate their appetite for gobblers. Here are details on popular destinations:
If you're willing to buy three licenses, you can shoot three wild turkeys in Nebraska. Each nonresident license costs $96 (plus you need one $20 habitat stamp). The state has Merriam's in the west, as well as hybrids and the Eastern subspecies. There is some public land, but otherwise plan on knocking on doors to get permission to hunt private land. Information: tinyurl.com/mga9vxm.
Hunters can shoot two turkeys in Kansas, if they buy an extra tag. Public land is limited, but the state is known as a turkey hot spot. The Rio Grande subspecies dominates the western two-thirds of the state, hybrid Rio Grande/Eastern birds are found in the north-central area, and Eastern birds are in the northeast and southeast, where the population is high. Cost for license and tags (for two birds) is about $127. Information: tinyurl.com/l5orpqe.
One of the priciest turkey tickets around is available for nonresidents who want to hunt Iowa gobblers. The cost: $102 for a license, $13 for a habitat stamp and $112 for a small game license. Yes, that's $227 in license fees for a gobbler. But more than 440 Minnesotans have bought licenses this spring. Limited public land is available. Information: iowadnr.gov/hunting/turkeyhunting.aspx.
South Dakota offers seasons in the prairie units and the famed Black Hills, where two-thirds of the land is public and Merriam's roam the Ponderosa pines. It's huge country, and be prepared for some hiking. Last year, more than 1,100 Minnesotans hunted turkeys there. A license to hunt the Black Hills costs $100 and can be bought over the counter. Information: tinyurl.com/p2pu4f9.
The spring turkey season in North Dakota is only open for residents, but nonresidents can get in on the fall turkey season. Information: gf.nd.gov/hunting/smallupland/wild-turkey.
The Badger State's spring turkey licenses are distributed by drawing, and hunters must apply by early December. Leftover licenses are sold over the counter beginning in late March. Last week there still were licenses available in some permit areas for May. Cost for all fees is a little more than $80. Information: dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/turkey.html.