What are you looking for?
Copy Link to Share
Share Title

Cottonwood Bottom: South Dakota Part One

Jason Brown, Chris Keefer and Casey Keefer are in South Dakota making memories as they hunt the show-stopping Merriam’s wild turkeys. The sun rises and the turkey calls echo, persuading the gobblers to say goodbye to their roosts. JB and the Keefer Brothers wait with Winchester…but not for long.

They don’t just walk….they strut. Cottonwood Bottom: South Dakota Part One

They don’t just spread their wings…they fan their brilliant feathers.

They don’t just call….They gobble. And cluck. And yelp.

Wild turkeys are a show-stopping bird. With their signature plumage and token trills, they make their presence known within the woods and across golden fields. And when they do, hunters across the nation are waiting to answer their call.

There are four sub-species of wild turkeys often pursed by outdoorsmen in North America: Eastern, Merriam’s, Osceola, and Rio Grande. A fifth sub-species—the Gould’s wild turkey—is limited and less recognized, as they primarily dwell in the arid mountain regions of southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Back home in Michigan, the Keefer Brothers and Jason Brown dial in on the Eastern wild turkeys that call the Mitten State home. The friends switched things up as they searched for the Merriam’s white-tipped feathers in South Dakota. While Eastern’s and Merriam’s boast similar qualities, there are differences that set the birds apart.

The Eastern sub-species are tough turkeys that comb the woods and fields before they roost in the timber. They have dark chestnut and cinnamon tail feather tips that fan into pretty plumage. These birds have the strongest gobble, and the toms strut their stuff with large spurs and long beards.

Merriam’s wild turkeys, on the other hand, have noticeably shorter beards and spurs in comparison to their Eastern counterparts. Their lower back and tail feathers are dipped in bands of white, while their black feathers feature an iridescent sheen of purple, blue and bronze. Mainly located in the ponderosa pines and mountainous regions of the Western United States, Merriam’s are generally the same size as Eastern wild turkeys.

Regardless of sub-species or state, the wild turkey offers an exciting challenge. The thrill of the turkey hunt propels outdoorsmen to pick up their trusty Winchester firearm and head out toward the timber. When that gobble echoes in the air, the hunt is on…and the fun begins.

Chris Keefer
Chris Keefer
Chris loves to chase big game in Alaska with brother Casey and spends a ton of time doing just that. When not there or in the planning stages of the next hunt, he enjoys a sunny day round of golf back home in his native Michigan.

As co-host of Winchester Life, he feels it his responsibility to help you find your own definition of the outdoors. He takes this responsibility very seriously and will take the rest of his working life fulfilling this quest. He can go from adventurous woodsman to sharp-dressed dinner guest in no time at all.
Casey Keefer
Casey Keefer
Casey lives off of the adrenaline and the solitude he finds in the most remote corners of the world. Essentially, this charges his batteries. For him, it’s not about the end game, it’s about the journey. He considers it his duty to “pass it on,” so that hopefully you can experience the same in your very own way – wherever that may be, chasing whatever you may chase. Casey is co-host of Winchester Life. He and brother Chris find themselves pursuing big game a large amount of time in Alaska.