Merriams and Rio’s

DoubleDropMuley

Active Member
Apr 18, 2020
183
221
Any of you experts have any fool proof ways to tell the difference, been looking at pics trying to tell the diff but some look like the other on my guess! And if hybrid how do you classify, whatever characteristics are stronger? Thanks if anyone can help a beginner Turkey hunter
 

gonhunting247

Veteran member
Jan 21, 2014
1,027
462
I think the Merriams have a much more pronounced color line on the tail. The white barring on the primary and secondary feathers is really clear. The Rios have a more cream colored (primary) tail and secondary feather color barring that seems to blend together with less pronounced lines. Not positive this is totally correct, but is kind of my understanding. I think all subspecies have a lot of variations though! It will be interesting what Todd has to say on this subject for me also!
 

THelms

Administrator
Staff member
I think the Merriams have a much more pronounced color line on the tail. The white barring on the primary and secondary feathers is really clear. The Rios have a more cream colored (primary) tail and secondary feather color barring that seems to blend together with less pronounced lines. Not positive this is totally correct, but is kind of my understanding. I think all subspecies have a lot of variations though! It will be interesting what Todd has to say on this subject for me also!
Yup... what he said. However, we had a strain of Easterns on our farm in Michigan that carried creamy colored tips as well. Lot's of variation in each sub-species.
 

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Staff member
Feb 3, 2014
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www.eastmans.com
Yup... what he said. However, we had a strain of Easterns on our farm in Michigan that carried creamy colored tips as well. Lot's of variation in each sub-species.
Todd and I had a detailed discussion this subject a few seasons back on a hunt. I haven't hunted an Eastern yet, which brought us to the biological differences traits, etc.
 

DoubleDropMuley

Active Member
Apr 18, 2020
183
221
Thanks guys, hoping to go after a eastern next spring, until then I’ll try and get my wife’s and mine 1st birds here in Wyoming. Headed out here Wednesday evening for a few days!! Hopefully this weather cooperates 😁
 

jimss

Active Member
Jun 10, 2012
220
89
Here's a map to give you started: https://www.nwtf.org/hunt/wild-turkey-basics/habitat

Many years ago turkeys were scattered across the mid west and west. Turkeys obviously moved with time and it's getting tougher and tougher to find pure strains. Unfortunately Western states didn't stay consistent releasing pure merriams or rios so many are hybrids. There tend to be a lot of hybrids in areas with adjacent merriams/rios or rios/easterns, etc. As an example, here in Colo rios are generally found along the river bottoms east of the Rocky Mtns and merriams in the mountains. Along the Front Range and eastern plains of Colo almost all of the turkeys are rio-merriam crosses.

With that said, some areas across the US you'll stand a better chance of getting pure strains of merriams or rios. You may want to to some research if you want pure strains of a turkey slam.