Are you looking for a popular, heart-pounding turkey hunt? While many states offer notable wild turkey hunting, California is one-of-a-kind. The Golden State has virtually everything a hunter needs, thanks to the excellent turkey population densities and combination of rugged terrain and lush lands.
California Turkey Hunting Season
California’s spring turkey season opens statewide March 26th and runs through May 1st. With growing populations of wild turkeys across the state, spring turkey season has become an opportunity that most hunters look forward to. The fall turkey season starts November 11th and lasts for about one month. Junior hunting license holders can hunt from March 18th to the 19th and May 1st to the 14th. California’s archery-only spring turkey season runs from May 1st to the 14th.
Keep in mind you may have a hard time finding the birds in the fall since they aren’t spread out across the backcountry. Instead, you’ll find them in large groups on private land.
California Turkey Hunting Registration and Regulations
All turkey hunters in California are required to possess a permit if they want to bag a bird. Hunters are limited to one turkey per day with a fall season limit of two birds and spring season limit of three birds.
Hunters must successfully draw through the ALDS random drawing application to participate. To apply, hunters must have a valid California hunting license. Adult hunters must also buy an Upland Game Bird Stamp to hunt upland game birds.
To hunt wild turkey you need to use a gun with caliber of at least 0.177. You can hunt wild turkey with a pellet gun as long as the caliber is a minimum of 0.177
You can hunt both female and male turkeys in California. You can only bag one turkey per day and bag a max of two turkeys during the fall season. During the spring season you can only bag one bearded turkey per day and bag 3 per the spring season.
Best Places for Turkey Hunting in California
California is filled to the brim with wild turkeys. The state has three species of wild turkeys: the Rio Grande, Merriam’s, and Easterns, plus hybrids. Each species has its own type of habitat.
Head to the foothills in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley to bag yourself the Rio Grande. The mountains in the El Dorado, Stanislaus, Mendocino, and San Bernardino national forests and Siskiyou County are home to many Merriam’s. For Eastern turkeys, make your way to the North Coast and the lower elevations of the Cleveland National Forest near San Diego. Turkey hunting in San Diego has proven successful thanks to its growing population of turkeys.
The highest take typically occurs in Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mendocino, Nevada, San Luis Obispo, Shasta, Tehama, and Yuba counties. Although many populations roam on private land, the state, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and public utilities offer numerous public opportunities.
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As a hunter, you take great pride in bringing home a wild turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. But before heading out for your California turkey hunt, make sure you have the right gear to get the job done.
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