Chris Phillips Explains How He’s Acquired 31,000 Acres of Prime Turkey Hunting Land in Five States
Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak ProStaffer Chris Phillips of Novi, Michigan has been chasing gobblers for 40 years and hunts private land in five states. Over the years, he's built a network of people who give him access to prime turkey hunting property. He hunts about 5,000 acres in Nebraska, 12,000 in Mississippi, 10,000 in Kansas, 2,000 in Missouri and 2,000 in Michigan for a total of 31,000 acres.
I'm often asked, “How did you get so much land to turkey hunt on every season?” The guys I hunt with in Nebraska have a deer-hunting operation. They absolutely do not want turkeys on their property. So, I help them solve their turkey-management problems. They believe that the turkeys destroy their food plots and eat the corn out of their corn fields. They have tons of turkeys, so they allow me to come in and hunt their spring turkey season. Early in my turkey hunting career, I learned that there’s probably not a farmer on earth who raises corn or any small grain crops that likes turkeys being on his property. These farmers feel that the turkeys are destroying and eating the crops they plant to earn a living. I look for farmers who are raising soybeans, alfalfa, milo, wheat, corn or millet.
Previously, I lived in Kansas City. I started hunting Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska because where I lived was centrally located to all these states. Where I lived, I could harvest eastern turkeys, Rio Grande turkeys and Merriam’s turkeys all within a 3-hour drive from my home. In these states, we could buy over-the-counter tags. Then when my wife and I moved to Michigan, I kept going to the Midwest to turkey hunt but also added Michigan to the number of states I was hunting, because we lived there.
I grew up in the State of Mississippi where my family and my wife’s family own about 12,000 acres. So, when you have that much turkey land to hunt with three different subspecies of wild turkeys, you're almost honor-bound to hunt these states at different times during turkey season. I'm in medical sales and work for a company called ResMed. I sell CPAP equipment for people who have sleep-apnea problems. Although I was in Mississippi with all my turkey hunting gear at the first of this year’s season, my work schedule didn’t allow time for me to turkey hunt. But I've hunted those Mississippi gobblers just about all my life. Because I hunt all over the country, I can say for certain that Mississippi gobblers are the most-difficult turkeys to hunt in the world.