News Releases

It’s time to be talkin’ turkey

Friday, February 27, 2015

Media contact: Tony Young, 850-488-7867

Hopefully, you’ve already started brushing up on your turkey calling ’cause spring gobbler season is here. Whether you prefer to use a mouth call, box call, slate or any combination, March means it’s time to talk turkey, and I, for one, am in full turkey mode!

Youth hunters can benefit from the two-day youth spring turkey hunting season the weekend prior to the opening of spring turkey season. This Youth Spring Turkey Hunt occurs on private lands and on 79 of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) wildlife management areas.

South of State Road 70, that weekend is Feb. 28 – March 1 this year. Above S.R. 70 in the rest of the state, that weekend falls on March 14-15.

Only those 15 years old and younger are allowed to harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older. On private land, no license or permit is required of the youth or supervising adult, unless the adult plans to help “call-in” the bird or otherwise participate in the hunt. In that case, he or she will need a hunting license and turkey permit.

Twenty-three of the participating wildlife management areas do not require a youth spring turkey quota permit. Those WMAs are Apalachicola, Aucilla, Big Bend – Spring Creek Unit, Big Bend – Tide Swamp Unit, Blackwater, Choctawhatchee River (only the south portion of the area), Escambia River, Herky Huffman/Bull Creek, J.W. Corbett, Joe Budd, Jumper Creek, Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Kissimmee River, Lake Monroe, Lochloosa, Log Landing, Lower Econfina River, Middle Aucilla, Osceola, Richloam, Steinhatchee Springs, Three Lakes and Upper St. Johns River Marsh.

If the adult supervisor is going to attempt to call in a bird on any of the participating WMAs, he or she also will need a management area permit in addition to the hunting license and turkey permit.

But keep in mind that adults are not allowed to do any shooting. Only the kids may harvest a bird. And any turkey harvested during the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt counts toward the youth hunter’s spring season bag limit of two.

During spring turkey hunts on WMAs, the only allowed firearms are shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns, using shot no larger than No. 2. All legal bows and crossbows also can be used on most WMAs. But all rifles, pistols, buckshot and slugs are prohibited during spring turkey hunts on WMAs. This rule does not apply to private property, where any legal rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, crossbow, bow or pistol can be used to take turkeys.

One of the most coveted and sought-after game species in Florida is the Osceola turkey, also known as the Florida turkey. This unique bird is one of five subspecies of wild turkey in North America.

The Osceola lives on the Florida peninsula and nowhere else in the world, making it extremely popular with out-of-state hunters. It is similar to the eastern subspecies (found in the Florida Panhandle) but tends to be a bit smaller and typically a darker shade with less white barring on the flight feathers of its wings.           The National Wild Turkey Federation and the FWC recognize, in their respective turkey registry programs, any wild turkey harvested within or south of the counties of Dixie, Gilchrist, Alachua, Union, Bradford, Clay and Duval to be the Osceola subspecies. Eastern turkeys and hybrids are found north and west of those northwest Florida counties.

For adults, the highly anticipated spring turkey season first comes in south of S.R. 70 and runs March 7 – April 12. In the rest of the state (except for Holmes County), it runs March 21 – April 26. In Holmes County, the season runs March 21 – April 5.

Hunters may take bearded turkeys and gobblers only, and on private lands the daily bag limit is two. On WMAs, you may only take one bird a day. The season and possession limit on turkeys is two, except in Holmes County, where it is one.

Shooting hours on private lands are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, but on WMAs, you must quit hunting by 1 p.m.

Of course, you can use turkey decoys to help entice that stubborn old tom, but you’re not permitted to hunt turkeys with dogs, use recorded turkey calls or sounds, or shoot them while they’re on the roost, over bait or when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present.

Besides a hunting license, you’ll need to buy a turkey permit. For Florida residents, the turkey permit costs $10. For all the out-of-staters seeking an Osceola to complete their Grand Slam, the permit costs $125.

If you plan to pursue a gobbler on one of Florida’s many WMAs, you also must purchase a management area permit for $26.50. Don’t forget to obtain a WMA brochure for the area you wish to hunt, because dates and rules can differ for each area.

Florida offers numerous public hunting areas, so if you didn’t apply or get drawn for a special-opportunity or spring turkey quota permit, don’t fret ’cause there are several WMAs that don’t require them. Visit MyFWC.com/Hunting to see a list of WMAs where you need only a hunting license, management area permit and turkey permit to hunt spring turkeys.

Tony Young and his wife, Katie, have turkey hunts planned in South Florida and closer to home in the Panhandle, going after both the Osceola and Eastern subspecies.



FWC Facts:
DeFuniak Springs is home to one of the two naturally round lakes in the world.

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