- Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Media Contact for MassWildlife seeks feedback on potential turkey hunting changes
Marion Larson, MassWildlife
At the request of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board and in response to a request submitted by the National Wild Turkey Federation, MassWildlife initiated a review of wild turkey hunting regulations to evaluate potential changes that create new hunting opportunities and increase participation. Turkeys are abundant across the state and harvest numbers have been stable in recent years. All data indicate turkey populations will remain robust statewide with increased harvest limits and expanded seasons. MassWildlife staff suggested several preliminary proposals and is hosting two informational meetings in February to provide the public with an opportunity to give feedback. MassWildlife Turkey Biologist Dave Scarpitti will make a short presentation on the turkey hunting review and regulation proposals, followed by a Q&A session for the public to give feedback. The meeting dates are:
- Thursday, February 7 at 6 p.m. at MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581).
- Wednesday, February 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Palmer Public Library (1455 N. Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069).
*If bad weather requires rescheduling or cancellation, we will post a notification here.
Anyone unable to attend the informational meetings may comment on the changes outlined below by clicking here. Input can also be mailed by postal service to: Turkey Season Feedback, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581. Public feedback will be considered by MassWildlife staff and provided to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. Please note that if changes are endorsed by the Board, a formal public hearing and public comment period will be scheduled and publicized.
Preliminary Suggested Turkey Hunting Regulation Changes
Increase the annual limit to three birds (2 bearded turkeys in the spring and 1 of either sex in the fall). Currently, hunters may 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. At this time, 20% of successful spring turkey hunters harvest their season limit of two bearded birds and therefore cannot hunt turkeys during the fall season. The proposed change would allow all hunters to take two bearded birds in the spring and an additional turkey of either sex in the fall, increasing the annual bag limit to three birds. Given the overall high population of turkeys, increasing the annual limit will not impact turkey abundance in the state.
Increase the daily bag limit to two per day during the spring season. Currently, turkey hunters may harvest one turkey per day during the spring season. Increasing the daily bag limit to two will allow hunters to take their spring season limit in a more efficient manner.
Expand the fall season (ARCHERY ONLY) to coincide with the archery deer season. Currently, the fall turkey hunting season begins the second to last Monday in October and ends the second Saturday thereafter, during which hunters may use a shotgun, muzzleloader, or archery equipment. This proposed change would allow turkey hunters to harvest turkeys with archery equipment during the entire duration of the archery deer season (6–8 weeks depending on zone). Turkey hunters would continue to be permitted to use shotgun, muzzleloader, or archery equipment during the traditional 2-week season from the second to last Monday in October through the second Saturday thereafter. In recent years, there has been an increase in fall turkey permits and the number of turkeys harvested with archery equipment; this change will increase opportunity for turkey bowhunters and those deer bowhunters who may have enhanced opportunity to take a turkey while deer hunting.
Youth Day Turkey Hunt Hours and Permits
Expand Youth Day turkey hunting hours to ½ hour before sunrise until 5 p.m. The Youth Turkey Hunt Day occurs on only a single day the Saturday before the last Monday in April; approximately 250–285 young adults ages 12–17 participate each spring. This provides young hunters the opportunity to hunt on a special day before the start of the regular spring hunting season. Currently, hunting hours begin one half hour before sunrise and end at noon, providing a limited window of opportunity for young adult hunters. Due to the relatively low participation on Youth Day, expansion of the hunting hours will greatly increase the total time available for hunting and will not result in any impact on turkeys or other constituents.
Allow Youth Turkey permits issued to youth aged 12–14 for use in the fall turkey hunting seasons. At this time, youth 12–14 years old who successfully complete the mandatory training program for the Youth Day are issued a free Youth Turkey Permit with two turkey tags and must always hunt with a licensed adult mentor hunter. These tags are currently only valid on the Youth Day and the remainder of the regular spring turkey hunting season. When hunting turkeys in the fall, these young hunters must currently use their accompanying mentor’s turkey tags and license. Because young adults who complete the mandatory training workshop for the Youth Day demonstrate significant initiative to earn the Youth Turkey Permit and must always hunt with a mentor, it is unnecessary to restrict the use of their tags to the spring season only. This change will provide additional opportunity for young hunters with the Youth Turkey Permit to use their own tag during the fall season by providing them with 2 spring tags and 1 fall tag. (Note: Under current regulations, youth aged 15–17 are required to have their own hunting license and turkey permit, which allows them to hunt in the spring or fall seasons.)