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Spring turkey season 2020

The 2020 spring turkey hunting season in Massachusetts is April 27–May 23. Review new regulations, safety information, and impacts of COVID-19.

Message from MassWildlife’s Turkey Biologist
First and foremost, I want to wish you and your families well during these uncertain times. We are just a few weeks away from one of the most exciting times of the year for hunters—spring turkey! This year marks the 40th spring turkey hunting season in Massachusetts, and the 2020 season will open as scheduled from April 27 through May 23. Remember to practice safe social distancing while enjoying the outdoors. COVID-19 related restrictions and precautions will impact some in-person services, including license sales and check stations. Most hunters already take advantage of easy online purchasing and harvest reporting through MassFishHunt. MassWildlife has created some new options to support hunters who are unable to do business online. If you know someone who doesn’t receive our emails, give them a call and let them know what’s happening or have them visit mass.gov/turkey2020 for up-to-date information. Good luck to everyone, I can’t wait to get out myself. Stay safe in the woods and stay safe at home.

—David Scarpitti, Wild Turkey and Upland Game Biologist

Table of Contents

Buy hunting licenses and permits ONLINE

  • Hunters are strongly encouraged to purchase licenses online. MassWildlife offices are closed until further notice, and many license vendors are closed as well. Hunters can purchase licenses and permits online with a computer or smartphone through MassFishHunt, or through any license vendors that remain open (call first). A printed license and turkey permit must be carried with you while turkey hunting.
  • NEW online purchasing option for 15–17 year-olds. Under normal circumstances, minors aged 15–17 must purchase a license in person and provide written parental consent. During the COVID-19 State of Emergency, parents and guardians can use an electronic form to provide consent and then purchase licenses online. Click here to complete the form. Please email mass.wildlife@mass.gov if you have any questions.

Report your turkey harvest ONLINE, phone option available

Hunters are required to report their turkey within 48 hours of harvest.

  • Physical check stations are not open this spring. Hunters are strongly encouraged to use MassFishHunt to report harvested birds online using a computer or smartphone. Due to COVID-19 public health measures, no check stations will operate during the spring 2020 turkey season, including all MassWildlife locations.
  • Temporary phone harvest reporting option. Hunters without computer or smartphone access can call MassWildlife to report a harvest over the phone.

    To report your harvested turkey over the phone, call your nearest MassWildlife District Office or the MassWildlife Field Headquarters (FHQ). Staff will be available to help hunters report their harvest over the phone. When reporting a harvest over the phone, hunters should be prepared to provide the following information: date of harvest, town and Wildlife Management Zone of harvest, the sex and age of the turkey (bearded birds only in spring), and the method of take (shotgun/archery/crossbow). Staff can assist if you are unsure of the sex or age of the turkey.

    MassWildlife Office phone numbers:
    • Western District, Dalton: (413) 684-1646
    • Connecticut Valley District, Belchertown: (413) 323-7632
    • Central District, Boylston: (508) 835-3607
    • Northeast District, Ayer: (978) 772-2145
    • Southeast District, Buzzards Bay: (508) 759-3406
    • Field Headquarters, Westborough: (508) 389-6300

NOTE: If you get a busy signal when calling a district office, try again in a few minutes or please call the Field Headquarters at (508) 389-6300 to leave a message. If you need to leave a message, please include your full name, customer ID number from your hunting license, and a phone number where you can be reached.

Youth Turkey Hunt

Following Governor Baker’s State of Emergency Declaration, all Youth Turkey Hunt seminars have been canceled. Only past participants who have completed Basic Hunter Education and a previous Youth Turkey Hunting seminar will be able to participate in the Youth Turkey Hunt on April 25 this year. Hunters aged 12–14 who previously completed a Youth Hunt seminar can log into their MassFishHunt account and print their turkey permit. Learn more about the Youth Turkey Hunt.

Youth Turkey Day hunting hours expanded: Hunting hours were expanded for the Youth Day only (April 25, 2020), providing young hunters with additional turkey hunting opportunity. During the regular season, ALL HUNTERS INCLUDING YOUTH HUNTERS must follow the standard ½ hour before sunrise to 12 noon hunting hours.

Note: Minors aged 12–14 may hunt with a licensed adult during the regular turkey season. (Minor and licensed adult must share one firearm/bow and share one bag limit.) 

New regulations for the 2020 spring turkey season

All hunting regulations, are still in effect during the State of Emergency and Stay at Home Advisory. Several changes to wild turkey hunting regulations were approved by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in 2019. The summary below provides an overview of the changes now in effect for the 2020 turkey hunting seasons. Click here for a complete list of turkey hunting regulations.

  • Increased annual limit of three birds—2 bearded turkeys in the spring and 1 of either sex in the fall.
    Prior to the regulation change, turkey hunters were only permitted to harvest either two bearded birds in the spring with no fall birds or one bearded bird in the spring and one bird of either sex in the fall, for an annual limit of two birds. Now, hunters can take 2 bearded birds in the spring and 1 of either sex in the fall.
  • Increased daily bag limit of two per day during the spring season.
    Prior to the regulation change, turkey hunters were only permitted to harvest one turkey per day during the spring season. Now, hunters may fill their spring season limit of 2 bearded turkeys in a single day.
  • Changed shot size to no larger than #4.
    Prior to the regulation change, turkey hunters were only permitted to use #4–#7 size shot for turkey hunting. With this change, hunters may now take advantage of advanced ammunition that will allow for greater flexibility with different shotguns, including #9 TSS shot produced by several manufacturers.
  • Expanded Youth Day turkey hunting hours to ½ hour before sunrise until 5 p.m.
    Hunting hours were expanded for the Youth Day only (April 25, 2020), providing young hunters with additional turkey hunting opportunity. During the regular season, ALL HUNTERS INCLUDING YOUTH HUNTERS must follow the standard ½ hour before sunrise to 12 noon hunting hours.

Safety reminders

MassWildlife encourages turkey hunters to review these safety tips before heading afield.

  • While hunting this year, be aware that more hunters and non-hunters may be out and about in the woods and fields as a result of the COVID-19 situation.
  • Always follow the 10 basic rules of firearm safety.
  • Be completely sure of your target and what is beyond it before you shoot. Always practice firearm safety.
  • Do not stalk turkey sounds; it could be another hunter. Sit or stand and call the birds to you.
  • Do not wear red, white, blue, or black; these colors are associated with male turkeys.
  • Protect your back. Set up against a large tree or rock and make sure your view isn't obstructed. Don't hide in a place with an obstructed view.
  • Do not place decoys too close to where you set up. Never carry an exposed decoy or tail fan while hunting; put them in a bag when carrying them in or out of hunting locations.
  • Consider wearing hunter orange when entering or leaving your hunting area.

Green safety sticker

All hunters must have a green safety sticker on your firearm positioned so you can see it when sighting down the barrel. If you need a new or replacement sticker for your firearm, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: MassWildlife, Attn: Turkey Safety Sticker, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581. PLEASE SUBMIT STICKER REQUESTS BY APRIL 17 to ensure enough time to process and return mail safety stickers prior to opening day. Requests received after the above date may not be fulfilled before opening day. After you place a safety sticker on your shotgun, put a piece of clear packing tape on top of it and it will last years, even through harsh hunting and weather conditions.

Where to hunt

Access to some hunting areas may be impacted by the COVID-19 emergency; hunters should check with landowners about any special restrictions. Additionally, hunters should be aware that more people may be enjoying the outdoors as a result of COVID-19. Avoid crowded areas and have a back-up plan if your usual hunting spot is crowded. Click here for information on where to hunt in Massachusetts, including resources for hunting on state lands, federal lands, municipal lands, and private property.

  • Wildlife Management Areas: All MassWildlife Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) remain open to the public for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation during this time. To find WMAs near you, please visit the MassWildlife Lands Viewer.
  • Joint Base Cape Cod/Camp Edwards: Due to changes in the Camp Edwards training schedule as well as the COVID-19 situation, the Youth Turkey Hunt and the May Controlled Turkey Hunt have been canceled on Camp Edwards.

Practice social distancing while turkey hunting

Hunters should remain at least 6 feet away from others, avoid gathering in groups, and stay home if they’re feeling sick. Given the current public health situation, MassWildlife recommends that mentors only hunt with immediate family members (within their residence) this spring. You can stay social during this time of social distancing by connecting with other hunters online and sharing your turkey hunting photos with MassWildlife on Facebook and InstagramYou can also mentor and help new hunters by sharing hunting advice by phone, through email, or on social media. Check out MassWildlife's turkey hunting tips here. 

Massachusetts hunters are reminded that most other states have quarantine orders in place for non-residents crossing state lines. Follow the latest official state guidance and recommendations regarding COVID-19.

Stay informed and help spread the word

MassWildlife will post any new information about the Spring Turkey Hunting Season to Mass.gov/turkey2020. You can easily add or update your email address by logging into your account at any time. Please help spread the word to other hunters, especially those who may not have access to email or a computer. Remember to maintain appropriate social distancing when contacting others.

Although MassWildlife offices are currently closed to the public, you can contact us at (508) 389-6300 or mass.wildlife@mass.gov. Please be patient as we do our best to respond in a timely manner.

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