California’s spring turkey season opens statewide March 30 and extends through May 5, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering 86 special hunts this year on public and private land to help hunters bag a tom.
Young hunters have additional opportunities. Junior Hunting License holders can hunt March 23-24, the weekend before the general opener, and the two weeks after the general season closes, May 6-19, using shotguns or any other legal method of take. CDFW is offering 25 special turkey hunts reserved just for Junior Hunting License holders.
California’s archery-only spring turkey season runs from May 6-19. New this year, CDFW is 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. Both properties are new to the SHARE program for the spring turkey season.
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 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.
Nonlead shot is required when taking wild turkeys with a shotgun anywhere in the state except when hunting on licensed game bird clubs. These regulations apply to both public and private land, including all national forests, Bureau of Land Management and CDFW properties. For more information on nonlead ammunition regulations, please visit www.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. 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, March 2, 2019
- Opening Weekend General Season Hunts: Saturday, March 9, 2019
- Archery-Only Hunts: Sunday, March 10, 2019
- Balance of the Season Hunts: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
To apply, please visit CDFW’s online sales site, sign into your account, select the “Purchase Licenses” link and select “2018 – 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 www.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 $11.62 per hunt with all of the proceeds returned to participating landowners to pay for these hunts and additional opportunities.
For more details and descriptions of these SHARE hunts, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share#51518483-general-hunts and select the links for the River Ridge Ranch and the Hart Ranch.