It's Thanksgiving! Learn about wild turkey management and public hunting opportunities


Wild Turkey Management and Public Hunting Opportunities  


Special Thanksgiving Update!


Wild turkey gobbler in strut

Initiatives to Monitor and Manage Florida's Wild Turkey Populations

As Thanksgiving approaches, a lot people are thinking about turkey. For FWC biologists, wild turkeys are front and center all year long! They manage Florida's largest game bird, which occurs throughout the state, to ensure abundant populations and provide regulated, sustainable hunting opportunities. 

Find out how biologists are learning more about and managing wild turkey populations through several initiatives, and how you can apply now for spring 2021 turkey hunting opportunities on select wildlife management areas.

Summer Wild Turkey Survey

Hen with poults

In 2019, the FWC launched a new summer wild turkey survey and invited everyone to participate by reporting sightings of wild turkeys. This citizen science project, conducted in Florida every year from June 1 to Aug. 31, is part of a larger regional study designed to provide more insight into the distribution and abundance of wild turkeys. By reporting wild turkey sightings, especially of juvenile birds or poults, everyone from hunters to wildlife watchers can help provide a way to gauge wild turkey nesting success, brood survival, and population dynamics at a statewide level. 

Nesting success and brood survival are important factors and can vary each year based on weather conditions, predation, and habitat characteristics/quality. Fluctuations in nesting success and brood survival strongly influence future wild turkey populations.

While participation in the 2019 summer wild turkey survey was low, during the 2020 reporting period the FWC received over 4,000 reports of wild turkey sightings. We hope even more people participate in the FWC’s annual summer wild turkey survey in 2021. See the results of the 2020 Wild Turkey Summer Survey and learn more about wild turkey nesting and brood rearing.

Photo courtesy of Glenn Whittington

Wild Turkey Harvest Survey

Turkey hunters sitting at base of large tree

In 2020, FWC biologists modernized how they gather information about Florida hunters’ participation in turkey hunting. For the first time, the annual wild turkey harvest survey was conducted via a telephone survey instead of the traditional mail-in survey. There are several advantages of using a telephone survey versus a mail-in survey to obtain input about participants’ spring wild turkey hunting experiences. It increases the number of people who respond to the survey and provides the FWC with information more quickly. In addition, because the phone survey was conducted shortly after the close of turkey season, hunters’ recall of what occurred during the season is more accurate than with a less timely mail survey.

The survey provides valuable information such as number of birds harvested, number of hunters, hunter-days per turkey harvested, gobblers heard by hunter per day, hunter satisfaction and more. The information collected as part of the annual wild turkey harvest survey helps biologists identify population trends. Find this information by reviewing the 2020 Annual Wild Turkey Hunting Status Report

Teaming Up for Wild Turkey Habitat

Flock of wild turkeys

In addition to monitoring wild turkey populations, FWC staff maintain and/or improve habitat on public lands for wild turkeys and other wildlife through an innovative partnership called the Wild Turkey Cost Share Program. The program provides a framework for the FWC, the Florida Forest Service and the Florida State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation to pool their resources for improving more habitat. Turkey hunters help fund these projects. A portion of the money they spend on turkey permits, which are required to hunt turkeys in Florida, goes to the Wild Turkey Cost Share Program. Funds are used on proven wildlife habitat management activities such as prescribed fire, roller chopping and longleaf pine restoration on wildlife management areas.

In 2020-2021, funding for this cooperative program totaled $271,950 and included 18 projects on 15 FWC-managed areas open to public hunting. That amount, combined with $1,120,572 from in-kind funding, provides a grand total of $1,392,522 for wild turkey habitat management. For project details, see the 2020-2021 Wild Turkey Cost-Share Projects.

Florida’s Wild Turkey Cost Share Program is one of the largest of its kind in the country. Since it began in 1994, it has provided nearly $6 million for habitat management.

Plan now for spring 2021 public hunting opportunities

Turkey hunter using a call

While most turkey hunting occurs in the spring, now is the time to plan for public hunting opportunities for the spring of 2021. Those interested in hunting turkeys this spring at a wildlife management area or national wildlife refuge have through Nov. 30 to apply for quota hunts, special-opportunity hunts and national wildlife refuge hunts during the Phase I application period. Learn more about these public hunting opportunities and apply at