California’s general spring turkey season opens statewide March 27 and runs through May 2 with additional hunting dates for young hunters and archery hunters.
Among the many opportunities to bag a wild turkey this spring:
- Those possessing a valid junior hunting license get the first chance at a spring turkey. A youth-only weekend hunt takes place March 20-21, a week before the general season opens. A post-season youth hunt begins Monday May 3 and runs through Sunday May 16. Shotguns are permitted for all youth seasons.
- A special, archery-only hunting season begins Monday, May 3 and runs through Sunday, May 16.
- CDFW’s SHARE Program, which offers public hunting opportunities on private properties, is offering drawings for spring turkey hunts on two private ranches in Tulare County, the 722-acre River Ridge Ranch and the 975-acre Hart Ranch, including one post-season hunt Sunday, May 16 at the River Ridge Ranch for adult archery hunters or junior hunting license holders with a shotgun. Applications for these special hunts must be made through CDFW’s online sales site. There is a $12.42 application fee for each hunt with most of the money raised returned to participating landowners. For more details on these hunts, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/SHARE.
- CDFW will host nearly 100 special turkey hunts on public lands throughout the state this season. The hunts were available through an online lottery process that has now closed.
- Dozens of CDFW wildlife areas will be open to wild turkey hunting on a walk-in basis throughout the season. Please visit CDFW’s Ecological Reserves and Wildlife Areas of California webpage for a listing of these wildlife areas and the recreational opportunities available.
With stable to growing populations of wild turkeys in many parts of the state, the spring turkey season has become one of the more anticipated events on the hunting calendar.
Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one half-hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. Both a hunting license and upland game bird stamp validation are required to hunt wild turkeys, although an upland validation is not required for junior hunting license holders.
Hunters are limited to one bearded turkey per day with a spring season limit of three birds.
Nonlead shot is required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in the state. Turkeys also can be legally hunted with air rifles and lead pellets of at least 0.177 caliber. Crossbows may be used for the general turkey season but not during the archery season.
Turkey hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes Due to COVID-19 web page prior to visiting any state-operated wildlife area in order to understand all required health and safety practices in place to help protect visitors and staff. Turkey hunters are further advised to check with the local management of the individual property they are planning to hunt for specific entry procedures, details and other regulations.
Below are general COVID-19 safety guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus in the outdoors:
- Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time.
- Plan Ahead: The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic. Prior to leaving home, check to ensure your destination is open, if parking is available and what visitor guidelines may be in effect.
- Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Those camping together should only include people within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties.
- Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Restrooms may be unavailable or closed. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash.
- Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.