California Turkey Hunting Seasons, Laws, and Location on Public and Private Land

California Turkey Hunting Seasons

Here, we fetch up California turkey hunting seasons, laws, and hunting locations on public and private land.

Topics

    1. Seasons and limits.
    2. Shooting hours.
    3. Hunting methods.
    4. Hunting locations.
    5. License and Stamps.
    6. Cleaning and Transporting.
    7. Species.
    8. Hunting forum.

Species for California Turkey Hunting Seasons

The species allowed for California turkey hunting seasons includes all “wild turkey” of the order Galliformes.  Wild turkey hunting are defined a “resident small game” bird.  See 14 CCR § 257.

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License and Stamps for California Turkey Hunting Seasons

Hunting License

Hunting license for California turkey hunting seasons.
Hunting license for California turkey hunting seasons.

For the California turkey hunting seasons, you’ll need hunting license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), formerly known as “DFG.” Hunting licenses are available to residents and nonresidents. The license you’ll need depends on your age, plus how where and how’ll you’ll be hunting them.  You can buy them online form the CDFW.  Warning shot!!!  While you’re out hunting, take your license with you.  See FGC § 303114 CCR § 313 and 14 CCR § 700.

Falconry

For California falconry license information, click here.

Hunting Clubs

For California turkey hunting clubs and shooting areas, click here.

Juniors

For California turkey hunting license information for youth, click here.

Mobility-Impaired

For California turkey hunting license information for disabled hunters, click here.

Outfitters and Guides

For California turkey guides and outfitters, click here.

Stamp / Validations

Upland game bird stamps for California turkey hunting seasons.
Upland game bird stamps for California turkey hunting seasons.

For the California turkey hunting seasons, everyone over the age of 16 needs an Upland Game Bird Hunting Validation. If you’re under the age of 16, you don’t need the validation if you have a Junior Hunting License.  The validation is sometimes referred to as a California turkey “stamp” and is available online from the CDFW.  See 14 CCR § 313.  NOTE: There are no requirements for California turkey tags.

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California Turkey Hunting Methods

In this Section, you’ll find authorized methods of hunting turkey and related topics. In the law, these are referred to by “methods of take,” which includes the pursuit, the hunt, the kill.

Air Rifles

Pellet Size 

In general, air rifles are allowed for hunting turkey in California.  However, the pellets must be at least 0.177.  See 14 CCR § 311(f).

Power

In general, air rifles are allowed for hunting turkey in California.  However, only rifles powered by air or gas may be used. See 14 CCR § 311(f).

Archery

Archery for California turkey hunting seasons.
Archery for California turkey hunting seasons.

In general, a bow and arrow is allowed for hunting turkey in California.  Warning shot!!!  If you use a bow, you can’t also carry a firearm while hunting turkey.  See 14 CCR § 311(e) and (k), and 14 CCR § 354(d) and (g). Click here to our summary the California turkey archery season regulations.

Boats, Kayaks, and Canoes

In the past, you weren’t allowed to shoot turkey from a boat or kayak, which was true for all resident small.  That law was repealed in June 4, 1970.  Since then, you can hunt turkey from a boat.  If you have a motor, it has to be shut off.  You you used a motor to get there, all momentum has to have come to an end.  You have to be drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or using a paddle or pole. The same is true for airboats, sailboats, or other watercraft.

Warning shots!!!  You cannot use a boat or kayak to chase, drive, or herd game birds. (There are a few exceptions related to agriculture, landowners, tenants, and animals causing property damage.)  There may be a few more restrictions on navigable waters and public land, including BLM property , National Forests, Wildlife Areas, and  Ecological Preserves.

See FGC §§ 3002 and 3031; and 14 CCR § 251.

Turkey Calls

California turkey calling may not be done with electronic or mechanically-operated turkey calling or sound-reproducing devices. See 14 CCR § 311(i).

Crossbows

Crossbows for California turkey hunting seasons.
Crossbows for California turkey hunting seasons.

If you want to use a crossbow for hunting turkey in California, you have to have a Disabled Archer Permit.  See 14 CCR § 311(n) and 14 CCR § 354(d) and (g), and our summary for archery law.

Decoys

Live decoys are NOT allowed for California turkey hunting.  See 14 CCR § 311(l).

Dogs

In general, dogs are allowed for retrieving and hunting wild turkey in California. Click here for our summary of dog-specific regulations. See 14 CCR § 311(o).

Falconry

Falcons are allowed during the turkey hunting seasons for falconry. See 14 CCR § 311(d).

Muzzleloaders

Muzzle-loading shotguns are allowed for California turkey hunting. See 14 CCR § 311(c).

Shotguns

Gauge Size

Firearms and shotguns for California turkey hunting seasons.
Shotguns for California turkey hunting seasons.

In general, no shotgun larger than a 10-gauge may be used to hunt turkey in California. However, no shotgun larger than a 12-guage may be used on, over, or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County.  Warning shot!!! There are similar restrictions at California Wildlife Areas.  See 14 CCR § 311(a).

Shell Capacity

California turkey hunting shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells in the magazine and chamber combined. If a plug is used to reduce the shell capacity, the plug must be of one piece construction incapable of being removed without disassembling the gun. The California turkey shell capacity restriction is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(a).

SHELL SHOT

Shell shot requirements for California turkey hunting seasons
Shotgun shell shot for California turkey hunting seasons.

Whether you can use lead shot depends on your location, what you’re hunting for, and the date. As of July 1, 2015, it’s been illegal to use or possess anything other than non-toxic shot at any California Wildlife AreaEcological Reserve, and the Condor Range.

Since July 1, 2016, it’s been illegal to use anything other that non-toxic shot for hunting upland game birds other than dove, quail, snipe, and any game bird taken at a licensed game bird club, resident small game mammal, furbearing mammal, nongame bird or mammals, or any wildlife with a depredation permit.

As of July 1, 2019, it will be illegal to use lead for taking all wildlife in California. See 14 CCR § 250.1 and our summary for Lead Ammo Ban and Non-Toxic Shot Laws.

Shell Size

While turkey hunting in California, shot size larger than No. 2 may not be used or possessed.  All shot shall be loose in the shell. The California turkey shell size restriction is located at 14 CCR §§ 311(b).

Vehicles

Vehicles, including ATVs and OHVs, during the California turkey hunting seasons
Motor vehicles for California turkey hunting seasons.

In California, it is unlawful to pursue, drive, or herd turkey with a motor vehicle.  Similarly, turkey may not be shot from a motor vehicle.  (Also see “Boats, Kayaks & Canoes” above.”  See FGC § 3002FGC § 3003.5, and FGC § 3501, and 14 CCR § 251.

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Transporting Wild Turkey

Congratulations, you killed a turkey.

Now what?

Possession of turkeys killed during the California turkey hunting seasons.
Transporting for California turkey hunting seasons.

You can field dress it, but there still has to be a way to identify it. You have two options. Either leave t’s head or at least one fully feather wind attached. Keep it attached until you get it to your “personal abode,”a taxidermist, a preservation facility, or until you’re about to cook and eat it.  See 14 CCR § 251.7(b).

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Seasons and Limits for California Turkey Hunting

Seasons and bag limits for California turkey hunting seasons.
Seasons and bag limits for California turkey hunting seasons.

California turkey hunting seasons are set according to the (1) time of the year, (2) hunter’s age, (3) method of hunting, and (4) location.  There are fall and spring seasons, junior hunting seasons, archery and falconry seasons, and special seasons at certain areas.

Fall Season

The California fall turkey season is the second Saturday in November, extending for 30 days (November 12 – December 11, 2016).

Spring Season

General Season

The California spring turkey season is the last Saturday in March, extending for 37 days (March 25 – April 30, 2017).

Archery-Only Season

The archery-only California spring turkey season is for two weeks after the general turkey season closes (May 1 – 14, 2017). You can also use a bow during the general seasons in the fall and spring.

Junior Seasons

The California spring turkey seasons are the weekend before the general spring turkey season opens, and for two weeks after it closes (March 18-19, 2017 and May 1 – 14, 2017).

Falconry

Falconry for California turkey hunting seasons.
Falconry for California turkey hunting seasons.

The falconry season for fall turkey is the second Saturday in November, extending for 30 consecutive days (November 12 – December 11, 2016).*

The California spring turkey season is the last Saturday in March, extending for 37 days (March 25 – April 30, 2017).

* These seasons are omitted from the CDFW webpage but are included in 14 CCR § 300(a)(3)(G).

Wildlife Areas

Turkey hunting is allowed on some California Wildlife Areas. In general, it’s allowed on Type C areas, but NOT allowed on Type A or Type B areas. See “Hunting Locations for California Hunting Seasons” below.

For juniors, the CDFW Regional Manager can set California turkey hunting seasons during the general turkey season (also see above). See 14 CCR § 550(i)(2) and 14 CCR § 551(e).

Daily Bag and Possession Limits

Fall Season

The daily bag limit for the California fall turkey season is one (1) wild turkey of either sex.  The possession limit is two (2) turkeys per season.

Spring Season

The daily bag limit for the California spring turkey season is one (1) bearded/male wild turkey.  The possession limit is three (3) turkeys during the general, archery and junior seasons combined.

Falconry Seasons

In the fall, you can take one turkey per day (either sex) and no more than two per season.  In the spring, you can take not more than one bearded turkey per day and no more than two per season.  The possession limit is three person.

See 14 CCR § 300(a)(1)(G).

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Shooting Hours for California Turkey Hunting Seasons

Fall Season

During the California fall turkey season, the shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. See 14 CCR § 310.5.

Spring Season

During the spring turkey season, the shooting times are from one-half hour before sunrise until 5:00 PM.  Warning shot!!!  In 2014, shooting hours ended at 4:00. See 14 CCR § 310.5.

Falconry

Hawking hours are from sunrise to sunset.  See 14 CCR § 300(a)(3)(G)(2).

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Hunting Locations for California Turkey Hunting Seasons

CDFW regions for California turkey hunting seasons.
CDFW Regions 1 – 6 for California turkey hunting seasons.

There are many great opportunities for California wild turkey hunting on public land.  For your convenience, we’ve organized these areas by the six regions of the CDFW (see below).  Follow the links to our summaries of area-specific turkey hunting rules, regulations and procedures.

  • Region 1: Northern California Turkey Hunting
  • Region 2: North Central California Turkey Hunting
  • Region 3: Bay Delta California Turkey Hunting
  • Region 4: Central California Turkey Hunting
  • Region 5: South Coast California Turkey Hunting
  • Region 6: Inland Desert Turkey Hunting

Region 1

Northern California Turkey Hunting

CDFW Region 1 for California turkey hunting seasons.
CDFW Region 1 for California turkey hunting seasons.
    1. Black Butte Lake
    2. Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area
    3. Jackson Demonstration State Forest
    4. Kinsman Flat Wildlife Area
    5. Klamath National Forest 
    6. Lake Mendocino
    7. Lassen National Forest
    8. Latour Demonstration State Forest
    9. Merrill’s Landing Wildlife Area
    10. Modoc National Forest
    11. Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area
    12. Sacramento River Bend ONA (Paynes Creek Recreation Area)
    13. Sacramento River Management Area
    14. Shasta – Trinity National Forest 
    15. Shasta Management Area 
    16. Sheepy Ridge Wildlife Area
    17. Six Rivers National Forest
    18. Tehama Wildlife Area
    19. Trinity Management Area – Tunnel Ridge and North of Trinity River (BLM)
    20. Whiskeytown National Park

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Region 2

Central Northern California Turkey Hunting

CDFW Region 2 for California turkey hunting seasons.
CDFW Region 2 for California turkey hunting seasons.
    1. Antelope Valley Wildlife Area
    2. Auburn State Recreational Area
    3. Black Butte Lake
    4. Cache Creek Natural Area
    5. Cache Creek Wilderness
    6. Cache Creek Wildlife Area
    7. Cosumnes River Ecological Reserve
    8. Collins Eddy Wildlife Area
    9. Cow Mountain Recreation Area 
    10. Daugherty Hill Wildlife Area
    11. Eldorado National Forest
    12. Englebright Lake
    13. Feather River Wildlife Area
    14. Fremont Weir Wildlife Area
    15. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area
    16. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
    17. Indian Valley Wildlife Area
    18. Indian Valley/Walker Ridge Recreation Area 
    19. Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
    20. Mendocino National Forest 
    21. New Hogan Lake
    22. North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve
    23. Oroville Wildlife Area
    24. Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge
    25. Spenceville Wildlife Area
    26. Stanislaus National Forest
    27. Sutter Bypass Wildlife Area
    28. Tahoe National Forest 
    29. Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area

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Region 3

Bay Delta California Turkey Hunting

CDFW Region 3 for California turkey hunting seasons
CDFW Region 3 for California turkey hunting seasons
    1. Canada de los Osos Ecological Reserve
    2. Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area
    3. Knoxville Recreation Area
    4. Knoxville Wildlife Area
    5. Lake Sonoma Wildlife Area
    6. Putah Creek Wildlife Area
    7. Rector Reservoir Wildlife Area
    8. Laguna Mountain

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Region 4

Central California Turkey Hunting

CDFW Region 4 for California turkey hunting seasons
CDFW Region 4 for California turkey hunting seasons.
    1. Camp Roberts
    2. Clear Creek Management Area
    3. Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area
    4. Fort Hunt Liggett (US Army)
    5. Hunter Valley Mountain Recreation Area 
    6. Kinsman Flat Wildlife Area
    7. Los Padres National Forest 
    8. New Melones Lake
    9. Pine Flat Lake
    10. Pleasant Valley Ecological Reserve
    11. Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern
    12. San Luis Reservoir Wildlife Area
    13. Sequoia National Forest 
    14. Sierra National Forest 
    15. Stanislaus National Forest 
    16. Tuolomne Planning Unit 

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Region 5

South Coast California Turkey Hunting

CDFW Region 5 for California turkey hunting seasons
CDFW Region 5 for California turkey hunting seasons.
    1. Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve
    2. Cleveland National Forest
    3. Los Padres National Forest 
    4. McCain Valley
    5. San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area

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Region 6

Inland Deserts California Turkey Hunting

CDFW Region 6 for California turkey hunting seasons
CDFW Region 6 for California turkey hunting seasons.
  1. Cadiz Dunes Wilderness
  2. Jacumba Wilderness
  3. Juniper Flats
  4. Perris Reservoir State Recreation Area
  5. San Bernardino Mountains
  6. San Jacinto Mountains
  7. San Jacinto Wildlife Area (Davis Road Unit)
  8. Sutter Bypass Wildlife Area

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California Turkey Hunting Forum

To participate in our California turkey hunting forum, leave a comment or reply below.

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While we try to fetch up all California turkey hunting seasons, laws and locations, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.

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