The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering nearly 100 special hunts on both public and private land for the upcoming spring wild turkey season, which opens statewide March 28 and extends through May 3.
Young hunters have additional opportunities to bag a tom turkey. Junior hunting license holders 17 and younger can hunt March 21-22, the weekend before the general opener, and two weeks after the general season closes, May 4-17, using shotguns or any other legal method of take. CDFW is offering 27 special turkey hunts reserved just for junior hunting license holders.
California’s archery-only spring turkey season runs from May 4-17. CDFW is once again offering a drawing for seven, archery-only hunts throughout the general and archery seasons near Millerton Lake in Madera County.
CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting access to 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 hunt reserved for junior hunting license holders March 22 at the River Ridge Ranch.
With growing populations of wild turkeys in almost every part of the state, the spring turkey season has become one of the most anticipated events on the upland game bird hunting calendar.
Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one half-hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. Both a hunting license and an upland game bird stamp validation are required to hunt wild turkeys, although an upland validation is not required of junior hunting license holders.
Hunters are limited to one bearded turkey per day with a season limit of three birds.
Nonlead shot is required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in the state. These regulations apply to both public and private land, including all national forests, Bureau of Land Management and CDFW properties. For more information on hunting with nonlead ammunition, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.
Applications for CDFW’s special spring turkey hunting opportunities must be made through CDFW’s Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunts are grouped into four separate drawings: Junior Hunts, General Opening Weekend Hunts, Archery-Only Hunts and Balance of Season Hunts. There is a $2.42 application fee and only one application per hunter is allowed for each drawing. Applications allow hunters to select their top three hunt choices in order of preference. Hunters may only be drawn once per application. The application deadline for these hunts is as follows:
- Junior Hunts: Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020
- Opening Weekend General Season Hunts: Saturday, March 7, 2020
- Archery-Only Hunts: Sunday, March 8, 2020
- Balance of the Season Hunts: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
To apply, visit CDFW’s online sales site, sign into your account, select the “Purchase Licenses” link and select “2019 – Hunting” from the menu on the left side of the page. The spring turkey hunt application items will be available under the “Drawings” section on the right side of the page. After submitting your application, checking out and completing payment, you will be able to download a receipt confirming your entries into the drawings.
For more details and descriptions of these hunts, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/turkey-hunts.
Hunters will also find the “SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application” available in the same location online after signing into their accounts. The application fee for the Tulare County private ranch turkey hunts is $11.88 per hunt with all proceeds returned to participating landowners to pay for these hunts and additional opportunities.
For more details and descriptions of these SHARE hunts, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share#51518483-general-hunts and select the links for the River Ridge Ranch and the Hart Ranch.
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland/Small Game Program, (916) 373-8816
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908