Time To Get Ready For Spring Wild Turkey Season!

RIO GRANDE TURKEYS are the most prevalent turkey species in California, although there are also Merriams in the higher elevations, and some parts of the state hold an eastern/Rio Grande hybrid.
SACRAMENTO —The 2019-220 spring wild turkey season opens on March 28 and ends on May 3 for the general season, although junior licensed hunters get to hit the field earlier—on March 21-22, and then again after season May 4-17, the same dates that archery-only turkey hunting is allowed.

The daily bag limit is one bearded turkey per day, and a maximum of 3 per season, combined in the spring and fall seasons. So, if you shot one in the regular season, you are only allowed to shoot 2 more in the spring season. An Upland Game Bird Stamp is required to hunt turkeys, in addition to your valid hunting license.

Throughout the year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) offers hunt opportunities designed especially for new hunters, youth hunters, women hunters, mobility-impaired hunters and other individuals who have limited experience or opportunity to hunt on their own.

Application to wild bird hunts for dove, pheasant, chukar, quail and turkey is now done through the online license system at https://www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/CustomerSearch/Begin , and to see what apprentice hunts are available, go to: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/ApprenticeHunts/view/publicScreens/ViewHunts.aspx .

Participants in the Apprentice Hunts are chosen by lottery, but applicants must meet certain qualifications.


In California, Rio Grande turkeys are the most widespread subspecies. They occupy much of the mixed oak and pine woodlands of the Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada and Cascade foothills, and they can be found primarily from sea level to about 3,000 feet in elevation, but occasionally as high as 5,000 – 6,000 feet.

Merriam’s turkeys occupy habitats dominated by pines, primarily above 3,000 feet, in northeastern California, but also in the Transverse Range in Kern County.

Additionally, the eastern subspecies has been released along the northern coast and eastern/Rio Grande hybrids from the Midwest have been released along the south coast. Hybridization between subspecies has probably occurred in various parts of the state.

Wild turkeys are now present in 54 of 58 counties, with the highest harvest occurring in Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mendocino, Nevada, San Luis Obispo, Shasta, Tehama, and Yuba counties. Many populations range on private land, but populations can be found on property owned or controlled by California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and public utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric.

The DFW has an excellent online refence publication all about turkeys and hunting turkeys in California that you can find at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=23229&inline .

Now is the time to begin scouting for wild turkey flocks, and areas where you are allowed to hunt them come the season opening on March 28.