In Florida, Osceola spring gobblers are a game bird that can be legally hunted. In fact, it’s the only place where this highly sought-after wild turkey subspecies can be found, making it a valuable addition to any wild turkey collection. Flights from Florida arrive in the state’s northernmost region, while those heading southwards arrive in the state’s easternmost region.
In general, the Florida turkey season is associated with swamps brimming with Spanish moss and wild turkeys, but there are exceptions. During the peak seasons in this state, the pinewoods, cattle pastures, and even the terrain inhabited by alligators and poisonous snakes are alive with the sounds of roosting birds.
Professional hunters and first-time turkey hunters alike require up-to-date and timely information about the upcoming Florida turkey season in order to plan their trips, licenses, permits, and equipment for the season’s opening. This article will outline what you can expect from the upcoming turkey hunting seasons in Florida beginning in 2021.
Florida Turkey Season – 2021 Hunting Regulations and Rules
When it comes to turkey hunting in Florida, it is against the law to hunt without valid hunting licenses or permits. When shooting them, you must also maintain a legally permissible distance from the bait in order to avoid prosecution.
A number of changes have been made to the rules and regulations for the upcoming hunting seasons in Florida. Silver Springs Forest WMA, located in northeast Florida, has been established as a new hunting destination. This 4,900-acre tract in Marion County offers outdoor sports opportunities such as spring turkey hunting, archery, general gun, muzzleloading, mall game, hunting, frogging, and fishing only. Other activities include hunting, frogging, and fishing.
When is the best time to go turkey hunting?
For many people, spending the entire morning searching for silent, late-season gobblers is a taxing task. It is difficult to get these observant birds to respond to calls as they pitch down, gobble, and strut their way into the decoys, but persistence pays off. As the Florida turkey season moves into April, the odds of catching a turkey decrease as the birds begin to develop lockjaw and reach the end of their breeding season.
Given these and other turkey hunting restrictions at various times of the day, it is critical to understand when the most productive times of the day are for turkey hunting in the wild. Gobblers strut with hens in the morning after the fly-in; the hens leave by mid-afternoon to begin nesting.
Professional hunters believe that the hours between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. are the most productive. Pre-dawn wake-ups are also preferred in order to reach the roosting and feeding areas (prior to sunrise) and work their way forward from there.
This is the time of year when hunters have the opportunity to bust their finds in fire breaks, main trails, palmettos, oak hammocks, burned pines, and other areas where they choose to sit. The results of previous scouting efforts and trials can be useful for those who prefer to stick to their run-and-gun strategies in the early morning hours.
Florida’s next Turkey Season is scheduled for 2021.
Come 2021, the roosts in Florida will be bustling with activity, resembling hives of bees. It is imperative that we get closer to the thriving population of turkeys and devise the most effective methods of removing them from their natural habitats.
In 2022, spring turkey will be available in Florida.
The turkey season runs from March 19 to April 24 north of State Road 70. Youth turkey hunt weekends are scheduled for March 12–13 (3) and April 24. (2)
Shotguns, rifles, pre-charged pneumatic air guns (including pistols), muzzleloaders (including crossbows), and bows may be used during the fall and spring turkey seasons, respectively.
Youth turkey hunting weekend: Youth 15 years of age and younger are permitted to harvest turkeys, but they must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older at all times. Adult supervisors with a valid hunting license and turkey permit, on the other hand, are permitted to “call in” the turkeys and otherwise participate in the hunt, but they are not permitted to shoot or shoot at turkeys.
Concerning Florida’s hunting opportunities
Florida devotes a great deal of attention to attempting to manage fish and wildlife resources for the long-term well-being of the species and the benefit of the general public.
There are more than 5.9 million acres of public hunting lands in Florida, which is one of the reasons it is so enjoyable to go hunting here. It is critical for the state to encourage all of its residents to take advantage of nature and participate in hunting activities. The principles of wildlife conservation are reinforced, and stakeholders are encouraged to consider strategies for effectively managing Florida’s game wildlife species.
This sunny state requires people to be able to get outside on a regular basis and enjoy themselves while doing so! So keep in mind that archery season begins on August 1 and ends on February 28 with general gun season and muzzleloading gun season.
Seasons for hunting in Florida are available.
Deer, hogs, and bobcats are examples of large game. Small game includes squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, skunks, nutrias, beavers, and coyotes, as well as otters. Quail, turkey, and quail eggs are included.
Exemptions from bag (daily and annual) and possession limits apply to deer taken under the Deer Depredation Permit Program, Private Lands Deer Management Permit Program, and Antlerless Deer Permit Program (antlerless deer only). Deer taken on licensed game farms and hunting preserves are also exempt from daily and annual bag limits.
Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Season Dates, Bag Limits, and Other Information for Each State’s Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Season The Fall Hunt Guide also provides a snapshot of your state’s spring wild turkey harvest data and wild turkey hunting license sales* (where available).
This spring, after more than a year of instability, most of the country was able to return to its routines this spring, which was reflected in wild turkey hunting as well as other activities.
Following an influx of hunters into the turkey woods during a national pandemic in the spring of 2020, turkey harvest data showed an increase of approximately 10% across the board from 2019 to 2020. Early indications are that wild turkey hunter numbers and turkey harvests will decline in many states in 2021, following a year-over-year increase in most states in the previous year.
Wildlife agencies and the NWTF continue to collaborate on identifying and improving habitat for wild turkeys in need of improvement, while also funding research and conservation efforts as needed.
Make use of the Fall Hunt Guide to plan your next outdoor adventure, but be sure to thoroughly review your state’s hunting regulations for specific details before taking advantage of everything that our natural resources have to offer.
If you are a renowned jake killer like myself, this information may not be of interest to you. However, hunters who successfully call in and harvest mature gobblers should keep the Florida Wild Turkey Registry in mind in order to determine whether their longbeards qualify for special state recognition.
The Wild Turkey Registry is a database maintained by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that contains information on Osceola and Eastern wild turkeys that have grown to trophy size. To be eligible, the beard must be 11 inches or longer, and each leg spur must be at least 1.25 inches in length or greater. Anyone who meets this requirement will be awarded an Outstanding Gobbler Certificate for the subspecies of turkey that was submitted, and their name will be entered into the registry for the benefit of future generations.
As an added bonus, the Wild Turkey Registry recognizes a youngster’s first turkey, which gives him or her the opportunity to brag about it. The Florida Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will award a First Gobbler Certificate to youth hunters who harvest their first gobbler in the state, even if the bird does not meet the minimum spur and beard measurements required for an Outstanding Gobbler Certificate.
According to the registry, approximately 37 trophy Osceola gobblers and 22 first gobblers have been recorded from Polk County, which is a fairly underwhelming representation considering the amount of turkey hunting that occurs here each spring. Despite the fact that Polk County has the most entries, the top one comes from Jeff Peterson, who harvested a tom with a 14.25-inch beard and spurs that were 1.875-inch daggers in 2002. This gobbler is also listed as the fifth largest Osceola ever registered in Florida, according to the Florida Wildlife Federation.
To submit an application to the Wild Turkey Registry, go to myfwc.com/hunting/turkey/registry/apply on the internet.
The Wild Turkey Summer Survey is an annual survey of wild turkeys conducted in the summer months.
When the spring season comes to an end, don’t let turkeys get too far away from your thoughts. Every year, from June 1 to August 31, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages everyone to report turkey sightings in the state. Information on annual nesting success, brood survival, and the distribution and abundance of wild turkeys can be gained from the data in this report. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received more than 4,000 reports of wild turkey sightings last year, spanning all 67 counties in the state.
For additional information, please see myfwc.com/hunting/turkey/brood-survey.html.
The spring turkey season is coming to a close.
The spring turkey season in Florida south of State Road 70 will come to an end on April 11, 2021. Hunters in the rest of the state must call it quits by April 25 in order to avoid fines.
As a reminder, the season bag limit for bearded turkeys on private land is two per person. The restrictions imposed on various wildlife management areas differ from one another, so be sure to carefully review the current rules and regulations for each WMA.
Local hunters looking for a place to hunt who do not have access to private land or a quota permit can visit the Green Swamp and Richloam Wildlife Management Areas, which are open daily throughout the hunting season. For those who can make it out there during the workweek, these areas offer thousands of acres of undeveloped land that is home to plenty of gobblers, though they may be wary at this time of year.
The vast majority of the land within Withlacoochee State Forest is included in Florida’s Wildlife Management Area (WMA) program, and seasonal hunting opportunities are available on the property. Anglers enjoy the Withlacoochee River’s waterways for their largemouth bass and panfish, which they can catch in large numbers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulates hunting and fishing in the Withlacoochee State Forest, which is located in the state of Florida (FWC).
Camps for Hunting
Hunting camps are only open during designated hunts for licensed hunters and are closed on all other days. Camping overnight with a permit is only permitted in specific locations.
Once the season ends on September 27, 2021, seasonal hunt camp permits may still be available by calling the Visitor Center at (352) 797-4140.
Dates for hunting
The Withlacoochee State Forest’s wildlife management areas (WMAs) hunting season will run from July 2021 to June 2021.
We provide the following tools and resources to help hunters who live for spring mornings in the turkey woods and those who aspire to do so make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We hope you enjoy them.
- Use the FWC’s new online guide to get started turkey hunting or to fine-tune your existing skills. Information on what licenses and permits are required, where to hunt, what to wear, how to call wild turkeys, and how to prepare healthy and delicious meals can be found in this resource, as well as other resources.
- If you didn’t get a permit to hunt turkeys this spring, look for opportunities to hunt in the open field. Florida has over 40 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that offer spring turkey hunting without the need for a quota permit.
- Get your hunting license and permits as quickly as possible by pressing the “Easy” button. Visit MyFWC.com/License for more information, or visit GoOutdoorsFlorida.com to purchase your license right away!
- Refresh your memory on these turkey hunting safety tips, or enroll in a hunter safety course to learn more about safe, responsible turkey hunting practices.
- Attend the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends, which will be held Feb. 29-March 1 south of State Road 70 and March 14-15 north of State Road 70, to learn more about how to introduce a young person to turkey hunting.
- Reward yourself for a successful hunt with a nutritious and delectable meal. These mouthwatering wild turkey recipes have been created by our partners, the Fresh From Florida chefs, and are so delectable that you’ll want to share them with your friends and family!
- If you’ve harvested a particularly impressive gobbler, you can apply for an Outstanding Gobbler Certificate. The Wild Turkey Registry, maintained by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, recognizes gobblers that meet certain minimum beard and spur length requirements. There is also a First Gobbler Certificate available for hunters who are under the age of 16 at the time of the harvest of the turkey.
It is necessary for those who wish to enter wildlife management areas to have the appropriate licenses, permits, and stamps. These individuals are exempt from all license and permit requirements (with the exception of quota permits when they appear on a list that says “no exemptions,” recreational use permits, antlerless deer permits, and the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp [federal duck stamp]):
The exemption applies to Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older, residents who have obtained a Florida Resident Disabled Person Hunting and Fishing Certificate, residents of the United States Armed Forces who are not stationed in Florida and who are home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders, and children under the age of 16. Children under the age of sixteen (16) are also exempt from paying the federal duck stamp. A hunter safety course must be completed by anyone born on or after June 1, 1975 and who is 16 years of age or older before a hunting license can be issued. The Hunter Safety Mentoring exemption allows anyone to purchase a hunting license and hunt under the supervision of an experienced licensed hunter who is 21 years of age or older before a hunting license can be issued or renewed.
During any hunt, youth and mentor license holders are required to be accompanied by a responsible adult supervisor. A youth hunter (someone under the age of 16) must be accompanied by a responsible adult (18 years of age or older). Applicants for mentor licenses must be under the supervision of a licensed hunter who is at least 21 years old. Only those supervisors who have the proper licenses and permits are permitted to hunt, unless they are exempt.
Hunting permit applications must be submitted electronically through GoOutdoorsFlorida.com for quota and special-opportunity permits. For more information, visit MyFWC.com or contact your local county tax collector’s office. Worksheets with information on hunts, application periods, deadlines, and instructions are also available at FWC offices and county tax collector’s offices. Quota application periods are held throughout the year, beginning on April 1. For specific dates, please consult the hunting handbook or MyFWC.com. Worksheets will be made available approximately 2 weeks prior to the start of each application cycle.
For each non-transferable archery, muzzleloading gun, general firearms, and spring turkey quota permit issued through GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, the holder of the permit (host) may bring a guest hunting by obtaining a guest permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In order to hunt, a guest hunter must have a completed guest permit on hand. The following individuals are exempt from this requirement: a youth under the age of 16, a youth supervisor, a mentor license holder, or a mentor license supervisor who is not a mentor license holder. There is a limit of one guest hunter allowed per host at any given time, and there is a daily limit of one guest permit used. Other than quota permit holders, non-hunters, and exempt hunters, the following individuals are not considered guest hunters (on areas and during seasons that allow exemptions). ATVs may be used independently by the guest hunter and the host; however, they must enter and exit the area together and must share a street-legal vehicle while hunting in the area. The guest hunter is only permitted to hunt while the host is present in the area. If you require additional information, please refer to the quota hunt worksheets.
Holders of youth and mentor licenses: If a youth or mentor supervisor is hunting during a hunt for which quota permits have been issued, at least one member of the hunting party must also hold a quota permit for that hunt.
Permits are not transferable: Quotas and guest permits are both nontransferable. When using a non-transferable permit, a positive form of identification is required, with the exception of a youth under the age of sixteen (16). The sale or purchase of any quota permit or guest permit is strictly prohibited under all circumstances.
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