General Spring Turkey Season Will Open March 28 New Extended Season For Apprentice Hunters
Tom Blankinship, Senior Environmental Scientist, Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3615 Scott Gardner, Environmental Scientist, Wildlife Branch, (916) 801-6257 DFG Office of Communications, (916) 322-8911
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) today announced California’s spring turkey season will open statewide on March 28. The general season will extend through May 3. In addition, archers may hunt turkeys through May 17, and holders of Junior Hunting Licenses are permitted to hunt through May 17 with shotguns.
In December 2008, the Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations for a new spring turkey season for apprentice hunters that will occur on March 21-22, the weekend prior to the general spring season. These early season dates apply to holders of a valid Junior Hunting License who are a part of the DFG’s Apprentice Hunt Program. The new apprentice hunt turkey season will be statewide for holders of a valid Junior Hunting License with no special permit required.
Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Both a hunting license and upland game bird stamp are required to hunt turkeys, although an upland stamp is not required for hunters with junior licenses. The bag limit is one bearded turkey per day and no more than a total of three turkeys during the general, archery and apprentice junior seasons combined.
Wild turkeys are a very popular game bird in California. The statewide population is estimated at 240,000 birds. In 2007 (the most recent year of compiled information), DFG’s “game take hunter survey” estimated that 27,500 hunters bagged 23,400 turkeys during the spring season. An additional 7,000 were taken during the fall season. More than 1,000 birds were taken from each of the following counties: Alameda, Amador, El Dorado, Lake, Mendocino, Shasta, Sonoma and Stanislaus.
For places to hunt turkeys, DFG recommends that hunters refer to the “Guide to Hunting Wild Turkeys in California” on DFG’s Web site at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/uplandgame/docs/turkeyguide05.pdf .
DFG has several special hunts for turkeys that are open to a limited number of hunters. Information and applications can be found in the spring 2009 edition of the California Hunting Digest at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/publications/digest/ .
Hunting permits required for the general season, issued through drawings, will continue to be required during the general spring turkey season. Hunters are encouraged to check DFG’s special hunts Web site for more information at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/uplandgame/gamebird/SpecialHunts/SpringTurkey/index.html .