SACRAMENTO — California's 2017 general spring wild turkey hunting season opens statewide on March 25 and extends through April 30. Hunters using archery equipment may also hunt the two weeks after the general season (May 1-14). Hunters who have a current junior hunting license may also hunt the weekend before the opener (March 18-19) and the two weeks after the general season (May 1-14), using any legal method of take.
A SUSPICIOUS GOBBLER might take a long time to get within shotgun range, or he might just sneak off, so being well concealed and well camouflaged are two of the most important things about spring wild turkey hunting. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR
The bag limit for spring turkeys is one bearded bird per day, three per season, combined. A current hunting license and upland game bird validation is required. Those in possession of a 2016 hunting license are still valid until June 30, 2017.
Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting wild turkeys with a shotgun statewide, except if hunting on a licensed game bird club. With implementation of Phase II in 2016, nonlead is required for all hunting on DFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves and when taking upland game birds with a shotgun, except for dove, quail, snipe and any game birds taken in licensed game bird clubs.
In addition, nonlead shot is required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds and any wildlife under the authority of a DFW depredation permit. These regulations apply both to public and private lands including all national forests, Bureau of Land Management land and DFW properties. Private landowners or anyone authorized to hunt on private land must also comply with these regulations.
Although full implementation of the nonlead ammunition requirement for big game hunting does not go into effect until July 1, 2019, DFW urges California hunters to start acquiring and practicing with nonlead ammo well before 2019. Hunting with pellet guns is also now legal in California, and the non-lead requirement does not apply to pellets, as airguns are not classified as a “firearm.”
The wet winter experienced in California will make for plenty of forage and cover for wild turkeys in 2017. Excellent turkey populations can be found in most areas of the state following decades of management efforts by the department. There are vast swaths of public land with turkey habitat available to hunters up and down the state. Last year was the best reproduction year in quite some time, which should make 2017 a banner year for turkey hunters.
Hunting wild turkeys with a bow and arrow is growing in popularity in California for a number of reasons. Archery equipment requires the hunter to get extremely close to their quarry, posing unique and exciting challenges. There is an extended archery-only season giving bowhunters two extra weeks to bag a bird. Hunting with archery equipment provides opportunities in hunting areas where the use of a firearm may not be legal or advisable.
WILD TURKEY HUNTING IN CALIFORNIA
The follow season dates and limits are applicable for hunting wild turkeys in California in 2017:
Fall Nov. 12-Dec. 11 one either sex 2 per season
Spring March 25-April 30 one bearded 3 per season
Archery only May 1-May 14 1 bearded 3 per season
Additional Junior March 18-19, May 1-14 1 bearded 3 per season