Special spring turkey season edition!

Hunting Hot Sheet masthead

February 2023

FWC’s Hunting Hot Sheet

The latest hunting and conservation news and events from the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Wild turkey gobbler

Check out the 2023 Spring Turkey Hunt Guide

Spring turkey hunt map

Hunters across the state are counting the days until spring turkey season opens. On lands outside of the WMA system, Florida’s 2023 spring wild turkey season runs:

  • March 4 - April 9 south of State Road 70
  • March 18 - April 23 north of State Road 70

To help you get ready for spring turkey season, we encourage you to check out the FWC's 2023 Spring Turkey Hunt Guide. In addition to regulations information (including the new requirement to log and report harvested turkeys), the 2023 guide provides a list of wildlife management areas you can hunt without a quota permit, though you'll still need a hunting license, turkey permit, and a management area permit unless exempt. Before hunting a WMA, carefully review the area’s regulations brochure as season dates, bag limits and other rules may vary.

Don't forget to log and report harvested wild turkeys

turkey hunting

If you’re planning to hunt this spring, be aware if you harvest a wild turkey, you must log and report it. This new rule went into effect July 1, 2022, and applies to all seasons that allow the take of wild turkeys.

All hunters, even those exempt from purchasing licenses and permits, must log their harvested wild turkey prior to moving it from the point where they located it AND report it within 24 hours of harvest or prior to final processing or transferring the harvested bird or any parts of it to a meat processor/taxidermist or transporting it outside of Florida; whichever occurs first.

We offer the following options to log and report your harvest:

  • Log and Report (Steps 1 and 2) on a mobile device with the FWC Fish|Hunt FL App (available at the App Store or Google Play) or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com 
  • Log (Step 1) on a paper harvest log and then report (Step 2) at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or Fish|Hunt Florida App or by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (888-486-8356) 

This reporting system is expected to foster bag limit compliance and give the FWC another source of wild turkey harvest data that will complement information from the annual phone survey conducted with turkey hunters after the spring season.

Find instructions for how to log and report, review FAQs about harvest reporting and download and print a paper harvest log at MyFWC.com/HarvestReport.

Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends

Youth turkey hunter

The FWC offers Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends, which are available to youth 15 years old and younger who are supervised by an adult, on the following dates:

  • South of State Road 70: Feb. 25-26.
  • North of State Road 70: March 11-12. 

Youth hunt weekends occur on wildlife management areas and lands outside of the WMA system. While most WMAs offering Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekends require a quota permit, there are areas that provide hunting opportunities during those weekends without a quota permit. Before heading afield, carefully review the WMA regulations brochure for the area you want to hunt. Some WMAs may require a daily quota permit issued from the check station. In addition, area season dates, bag limits, shooting hours and other rules may vary from statewide seasons and other WMAs. Find a list of WMAs that don't require a quota permit during Youth Turkey Hunt Weekends. 

4 wild turkey tools you need to know about

1. Hunting tips

The FWC’s How to Hunt Wild Turkeys Guide provides information about scouting, gear and apparel, methods of take, safe and successful turkey hunting, and cleaning and cooking wild turkey.

2. Distribution map

Learn more about the predicted quality of habitat and the likelihood of wild turkeys occurring where you plan to hunt by using the FWC’s interactive map

3. Wild turkey registry

The FWC’s Wild Turkey Registry recognizes gobblers that meet certain minimum beard and spur length requirements. It also awards First Gobbler Certificates to hunters under age 16 who harvest their first gobbler, regardless of beard or spur measurements. Learn about applying for an Outstanding Gobbler Certificate and a First Gobbler Certificate through the FWC’s Wild Turkey Registry Program.

4. Wild turkey recipes

If you harvest a wild turkey, celebrate your successful hunt and enjoy delicious meals with these wild turkey recipes.

Wild turkey research

Wild turkey research

The FWC is adding to its body of information about wild turkeys by conducting a three-year research project in south Florida to learn more about when and how often gobbling occurs. Another facet of the study, which begins this spring, will be to examine nesting activity. The goal of this research is to determine the relationship between gobbling, nesting and hunting season dates to ensure Florida’s spring turkey season is set to maximize hunter satisfaction and the sustainability of Florida’s wild turkey population. This project expands on a 2014-17 study with the same goals conducted at sites in north and central Florida.

Like the earlier study, automated recording devices will be strategically placed to pick up gobbling at Okaloacoochee Slough WMA in Hendry County and DeLuca Preserve in Osceola County. In addition, wild turkey trapping at those sites will allow biologists to get some basic information (weight, size, age, sex, etc.) about each bird. In addition, they’ll band all captured birds and outfit a select number of hens with GPS transmitters. Biologists will regularly check in with hens that received GPS transmitters to monitor nesting behavior including when and how many nests are initiated and the outcome of the nesting effort.

Hens will also be tested for lymphoproliferative disease virus (LPDV). First identified in 2009 in Arkansas, this disease can cause wild turkeys to develop tumors in the spleen, liver and other organs and on their skin. Testing for LPDV as a part of this study will provide biologists with the opportunity to assess whether it affects wild turkey reproduction rates.

This research project is the result of a partnership between the FWC and the University of Florida D.E.E.R. Lab. It is funded by the money generated from the sale of turkey permits, which are required to hunt wild turkeys in Florida (unless exempt) as well as contributions from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and Florida State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. You can also donate to help further research on wild turkey ecology and management.

This study is part of several other efforts through the FWC’s wild turkey management program to better understand wild turkey distribution and abundance, nesting success and brood survival, and hunter satisfaction, effort and success. Stay tuned for research updates!

Wild turkey image courtesy of Jim Turlington

Sign up for summer camp

Summer camp fun

Register now for the FWC's Ocala Outdoor Adventure Camp to make sure your kids get the chance to learn about wildlife, experience the outdoors and have fun this summer!

We offer youth aged 8 to 17 a variety of safe, fun and age-appropriate week-long camps where they can learn new skills, explore northeast Florida's unique ecosystems and even take part in a wilderness camping adventure.  Campers can also receive their hunter safety certification through the camp's Pathfinders program. Those who are already hunter safety certified can improve their shooting sports skills in the Rangers and Outfitters programs. In addition, there's a special camp opportunity for high schoolers to build their leadership skills. Learn more and register.

Find other summer camps through the FWC's Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network. 

Returned permits

If you’re interested in hunting a wildlife management area that requires a quota permit but you didn’t apply or weren’t drawn, you may want to check into returned permits. These are permits that hunters return because they can’t use them. They are included in weekly reissue drawings throughout the season. Log into your account at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com to view permit availability and apply.

Learn more about returning unused permits and how to apply for them.

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